WASHINGTON – Today, as federal employees prepare to miss yet another paycheck because of the Trump shutdown, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are fighting to ensure that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) takes urgent action to prevent federal employees from losing vision and dental insurance, or having to pay out of pocket for coverage. OPM is the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for civilian federal employees.
The Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) provides dental and vision insurance for federal employees. Employees are required to pay 100 percent of the insurance premium, which is directly deducted from their paycheck. But currently, more than 10,000 federal workers in New Mexico are not receiving a paycheck due to the shutdown. According to OPM guidance, after two missed paychecks, federal employees are responsible for premiums out of pocket in order to ensure continuation of coverage.
“OPM must take steps to ensure federal employees who miss a second paycheck on January 25th are not cut off from health benefits, including vision and dental coverage,” Udall and Heinrich wrote. “We have heard from federal employees who are afraid they will not be able to afford necessary vision and dental services for themselves and their families, including planned and important dental procedures.”
“We urge you to make decisions regarding coverage and premium responsibility to ensure that federal employees continue to be covered under FEDVIP while they are furloughed or working without pay due to this unnecessary government shutdown,” the senators continued. “Federal employees and their families should not be forced to suffer the consequences of a shutdown that they had nothing to do with, including potentially serious medical consequences. Some of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, and cannot afford to pay their rent, grocery and other bills while the shutdown continues, let alone pay premiums for coverage normally deducted from regular pay.”
The full text of the letter is available here.