Federal Daily News
Senate bill proposes moving Medicare seniors into FEHBP
Republicans this week announced reform legislation that would wind down Medicare and open the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to all Medicare-eligible seniors.
The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act (S.2196), introduced on March 15 by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Jim DeMint (S.C.), would allow all Medicare-eligible patients to enroll in FEHBP plans beginning in 2014. The existing Medicare program eventually would sunset.
The legislation also gradually would increase the initial eligibility age for seniors over a period of 20 years from age 65 to 70, at a rate of three months per year. The sponsors claim the plan would save $1 trillion over the first 10 years.
“Medicare, as we know it, is broken and in desperate need of reform,” Paul said in a statement. “The CHCSA fixes the Medicare system, and gives seniors access to the best health care plans enjoyed currently by members of Congress and does so without breaking the bank; in fact this plan will save taxpayers $1 trillion over 10 years.”
Joseph Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, was less than enthusiastic about the proposal.
"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,” Beaudoin said in a statement. "Given the current environment of budget attacks on federal employees, retirees and Medicare, the federal workforce and all Americans should be wary of plans like the one proposed today.”
A briefing document released by Paul acknowledges that moving seniors into FEHBP would raise the cost of coverage for federal employees. An individual federal employee “would be on the hook for $400 more per year of their own health care costs,” the document states.
“But the federal workforce already receives generous benefits and compensation,” the paper contends. “This is a sacrifice our federal workers should be prepared to make so that the citizens who pay their salaries and benefits can have the same health care benefits.”