FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 06, 2003
Diane S. Witiak
(202) 639-6419

Legislation Would Make Health Care Coverage More Affordable; AFGE Urges Quick Congressional Passage

(Washington, D.C.)—“The introduction of legislation to increase the government’s share of premiums for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is critically needed to make health care more affordable and the federal government a more attractive employer,” stated Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

“The current financial formula the government uses for FEHBP is inferior to standards set by other large private and state government employees,” Harnage added. “In the largest states and the largest unionized private firms, the employer pays between 90 and 100 percent of premiums.”

Harnage pointed out that moving to an average of 80 percent would open the door to health insurance for many of the 250,000 uninsured federal workers who cannot afford coverage at today's rates. He noted that rates have shot up over 50 percent in just the last five years.

“These bills are an important attempt to make FEHBP more affordable for federal workers and their families. It is also a smart response to the government's much-discussed ‘human capital crisis,’" Harnage added. “Closing the gap between the federal government and other employers in both the private and public sectors in the area of health insurance benefits would go a long way toward improving prospects for recruiting and retaining the next generation of federal employees.”

“AFGE and its members thank Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for their introduction of legislation to increase the government’s share of premiums to 80 percent,” Harnage concluded. “We urge Congress to pass these bills quickly to improve FEHBP affordability for thousands of federal employees and their families who are currently without health care coverage.”

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