Two health plans that specialize in providing medical insurance and related benefits to federal law enforcement agents have merged.
The Special Agents Mutual Benefit Association, which has offered health and life insurance to FBI employees since 1948, announced this week that the Secret Service Employee Health Association, formed in 1987, had been folded into SAMBA.
SAMBA will offer a high-option health plan and a standard-option plan in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program next year.
SAMBA is open to employees and retirees of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Administration, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation division and other law enforcement components. The Secret Service plan had focused on current and retired employees of the Secret Service.
The Office of Personnel Management, which administers the federal employee and retiree health program, said SAMBA has 12,350 enrollees and the Secret Service plan has 2,433 members.
For 2005, members enrolled in the current SAMBA health plan will be automatically enrolled in the SAMBA high-option. Members enrolled in the 2004 Secret Service health plan will automatically be enrolled in the SAMBA standard option for next year.
Enrollees, however, do not have to accept those designations and may change health plans or plan options during the FEHBP open season, which begins Nov. 8 and runs through Dec. 13.
According to the OPM premium chart, enrollees in SAMBA's high-option plan will pay $75.43 biweekly for individual coverage and $188.13 biweekly for family coverage. SAMBA's new standard option will cost $41.74 for individuals and $98.92 for families biweekly.
In a statement, William P. O'Hanlon, president of SAMBA, said that information on 2005 rates and benefits will be mailed to enrollees prior to the open season. He noted that SAMBA will be using a new nationwide preferred-provider network sponsored by CareFirst BlueCross and BlueShield next year.
Next year, FEHBP will offer 249 health plan choices. The OPM said eight new health plans will join the program for 2005, including Coventry Health Care of Delaware, which provides services in Maryland.
No Funds for Fund?
For the last two years, the Bush administration has urged Congress to approve a "Human Capital Performance Fund" that would be used to provide bigger pay raises to the government's best workers. But the initiative appears to be in trouble.
The administration's plan called for the performance fund to be administered by the OPM. The Senate Appropriations Committee, however, has thrown cold water on the idea of a centralized fund.
"The committee believes that an initiative of this type should be budgeted and administered within the salaries and expenses of each individual agency and denies funding for fiscal year 2005," a committee report said.
A decision on whether to go ahead with the project may be left to Senate and House negotiators. The House Appropriations Committee has not displayed much enthusiasm, but it has proposed $16.4 million for the performance fund, far less than the $300 million sought by the Bush administration.
NARFE Reelects Fallis
Charles L. Fallis has been reelected as president of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, which has about 400,000 members and represents the interests of nearly 2.3 million federal retirees and their families.
Fallis was reelected this month at NARFE's 28th biennial convention, held in Reno, Nev. He defeated Margaret L. Baptiste, a former NARFE vice president, by a vote of 3,987 to 2,821.
Also elected as national officers were Dan C. Galvan as vice president, David F. Sullivan as secretary and Richard Ostergren as treasurer.
OPM on Diary Live
Abby L. Block, deputy associate director at the Office of Personnel Management, will take questions about health savings accounts and their role in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program at noon today on Federal Diary Live at www.washingtonpost.com. Please join us.