Nearly two million government workers who had Blue Cross-Blue Shield health insurance policies in 1976 may be getting court-ordered premium rebates that would average $27 a person. But don't budget the potential windfall as part of this year's Christmas shopping plans.
The possibility of a rebate from the giant health insurance carrier has been opened up by the U.S. Court of Appeals here. Last week it reversed an earlier U.S. District Court ruling on a suit brought by the National Treasury Employes Union.
NTEU alleged that a 35 percent premium increase by Blue Cross-Blue Shield in 1976 was nearly double the amount needed to allow the carrier to meet costs and pay benefits. About six of every 10 federal workers is covered by the Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan.
NTEU charged that both the General Accounting Office and the Federal Insurance Administration had supplied data showing the rate increase was about 50 percent too much. The Civil Service Commission that handles negotiations between the 30-plus federal insurance carriers and the government, okayed the rise.
NTEU's legal challenge brought a hohum from most people. But bear in mind that NTEU is the same outfit that sued President Nixon in 1972 because he delayed a federal pay raise from October until January NTEU wasn't given a snowball's chance of winning, but it did. The result was a giant payback - $540 million - to workers who were shortchanged a pay raise by three months.
In the back pay case, which resulted in retroactive salary payments of up to $500 for some employes, the court said Nixon had the legal right to defer the pay raises but that he had used the wrong procedures to do it. Anyway you slice it, government workers got their money.
NTEU officials estimate that the amount owed federal subscribers - if their case holds up through various levels of appeal - will run about $50 million. More important, they feel, it also would establish that courts have the right to review federal government insurance deals for its employes. The fight is a long way from over, but round two has gone to government employes.
Supervisory Position Classification Specialist: Labor has a Grade 14 or 15 opening. Call Sherelene Thomas at 523-6677.
Next Times It Snows: Federal and District of Columbia Government workers may be excused for being late to work because of dangerous, or unusual weather conditions.
The decision to shut down federal agencies early, or have everybody come in later because of snowfall, is made by the White House. That is based on recommendations of the D.C. Highway Department, the Weather Bureau and the Civil Service Commission.
When we get hit with a big snowfall the appropriate officials will hunddle and decide what sort of recommendation to make to the White House. If the White House agrees, local transporation services are warned, then the notice goes out to radio, tv and newspaper offices.
A White House decision usually takes in everybody (but key personnel) working for Uncle Sam in metro Washington. Individual snow, rain, smog, wind damage and other so-called acts of God that delay people getting to work are handled by supervisiors and agencies on a case-by-case basis. If you were late yesterday and can convince the boss you tried your darndest to get to work, he or she may grant administrative leave for the time. If not, you either take vacation time for sitting in a Key Bridge traffic jam or get docked for being late for work.
Deborah K. Bowker takes over next month as editor and legislative counsel for the National Association of Postal Supervisors. She has been editor of "Postal World" a newsletter aimed at business mailers.
General Counsels Session: Top agency lawyers will have an all-day session Dec. 7 on the new civil service reform law. The Civil Service Commission meeting is to brief them on several items, including employe rights under the act.