The Office of Personnel Management and the American Federation of Government Employees have reached agreement on language to be used in the union's health plan brochure. AFGE is one of a dozen plans in the federal health insurance programs that pay benefits for therapeutic abortions.
Congress, in the continuing resolution it passed just before it adjourned, voted to ban use of federal funds in 1983 for all but emergency abortions. The resolution expires on Dec. 17, meaning that abortion benefits would be permissible in 1983 federal health plans unless Congress extends the ban when it votes another stopgap funding bill for agencies.
Because both the Senate and House approved the nonemergency abortion language, the OPM advised government health insurance carriers that their brochures outlining 1983 benefits could not advertise abortion benefits. The OPM is assuming that Congress will continue the ban.
But the AFGE argued that failure to mention abortion coverage could mislead federal health plan shoppers, who will be picking their 1983 health plan before Congress votes again on the abortion issue.
In a settlement reached in judges' chambers Friday, the OPM agreed to let the AFGE brochures advise potential subscribers that the plan will offer abortion benefits coverage unless Congress rules otherwise.