The Washington Post

Medicare bill would hike costs to federal workers


Four Republican senators have introduced legislation designed to improve Medicare, but with federal employees paying a price.

Under the Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act, Medicare recipients would enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP).


Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.), the main sponsor of the bill, said it would save taxpayers $1 trillion over 10 years. He acknowledged, however, that the legislation would result in higher premiums for federal employees

“Federal employees including myself will have to pay [more]. It’s about $30 a month more,” said Paul at a Capitol Hill press conference Thursday. “But I think that’s something we have to do to make it fair and to help save Medicare.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a co-sponsor of the legislation, said, “allowing Medicare recipients to enroll in the FEHBP is a win for both seniors and the taxpayer. ...Frankly, it’s hard to argue against this common sense reform because the FEHBP covers every Member of Congress and all federal employees.”

An organization that represents older Americans on Medicare and federal employees does have arguments against the legislation.

"This is a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone kind of proposal that would both bring down Medicare as we know it and threaten the stability of the FEHBP,” said Joseph A. Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

"For more than four decades, the FEHBP has provided a stable, though not overly generous, health insurance benefit to federal civilian employees, retirees and their dependents.  To throw open the doors of the plan to absorb the flood of seniors currently enrolled in Medicare poses certain risks and must be examined closely."

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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