January 15, 2019

Wyden Urges Feds to Clear Up Health Care Coverage Questions for Employees Furloughed in Trump Shutdown

Oregon senator says federal workers getting conflicting information about whether coverage continues in shutdown

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today asked federal officials to clear up conflicting health care coverage information provided federal employees furloughed by the shutdown.

In Wyden’s letter to Margaret Weichert, Acting Director for the Office of Personnel Management, the senator wrote that health insurance concerns raised by Oregonians are urgent for federal workers and their families.

“Today, January 15, 2019, the President’s shutdown of the federal government has entered its 25th day – the longest in the history of the United States,” Wyden wrote. “My constituents in Oregon and I are increasingly concerned there may be no end in sight.  

“As uncertainty and confusion continues to grow among the some 800,000 federal employees furloughed without pay, it has been brought to my attention that some of my constituents are receiving conflicting information about whether coverage through the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program will continue during the shutdown,” he wrote. “This issue is of particular concern for federal employees and their family members with preexisting conditions, especially preexisting conditions exacerbated by exactly the sort of stress this shutdown is causing.

Wyden asked Weichert to provide answers that could be made public to furloughed employees within five days:

(1)   Are federal employees guaranteed to receive coverage through the FEHB program while on furlough due to the government shutdown?

(2)   Is OPM proactively notifying employees and providers of the status of coverage during the shutdown?

(3)   How are you working with insurers offering FEHB plans to ensure continuous coverage during the shutdown?

(4)   If a FEHB beneficiary is denied coverage at any point during the shutdown, what is your plan for addressing and rectifying such a scenario?

(5)   When an agreement is reached to end the shutdown, how will you ensure FEHB beneficiaries have clear information about the premium owed for the period of time an employee was furloughed?