June 12, 2000
Magda Lynn Seymour
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Tells Congress: Include Federal Workers at the FEHBP Bargaining Table

The union leader will point out that federal workers and retirees contribute roughly $6 billion to the annual cost of FEHBP. "There is no good reason why $6 billion out of the pockets of federal employees for health care costs does not justify our request for a seat at the table so we are able to represent our own priorities and raise our own questions with health insurance companies," Harnage will state.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) refers to insurance companies as its 'partners', Harnage will note. "We suggest there is much that OPM can do in partnership with us to bring down FEHBP's costs for many benefits, especially prescription drugs," Harnage will add.

"AFGE believes that the time is long overdue to make available to FEHBP the prescription discounts and favorable treatment that the federal government has arranged for the benefit of other health care systems," Harnage will emphasize. "It is time that OPM be instructed to use all the tools at its disposal to get tough on those who set drug prices, not those who pay them."

Harnage will urge that the government's Cost Accounting Standards-which FEHBP carriers have been exempt from for the past two years-be vigorously reapplied in order to make sure that every health care dollar devoted to FEHBP is actually spent on the program and its beneficiaries.

He will also recommend that the Special Agents Mutual Benefit Association (SAMBA) initiative be embraced for all eligible FEHBP plans, so as many federal employees as possible, as well as their employing agencies, are able to benefit from the savings.

"The federal government must stop trying to get by on the cheap with regard to employee compensation," Harnage will conclude.

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