[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 31 (Thursday, February 15, 2007)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 7345-7346]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-2619]



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Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register
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under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510.

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Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 31 / Thursday, February 15, 2007 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 7345]]



OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

5 CFR Part 890

RIN: 3206-AK98


FEHB Coverage and Premiums for Active Duty Members of the 
Military

AGENCY: Office of Personnel Management.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Office of Personnel Management is issuing a final 
regulation to change the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) 
Program regulations that govern continued coverage for employees who 
are called or ordered to serve in the uniformed services. These final 
regulations provide extended FEHB coverage for up to 24 months to 
Federal employees called or ordered to active duty and who meet certain 
requirements, including serving in support of a contingency operation. 
Those employees who are called or ordered to active duty in support of 
a contingency operation are also eligible for premium payments by their 
employing agency. The purpose of these final regulations is to 
authorize Federal agencies to continue health benefits coverage for up 
to 24 months for those employees called or ordered to active duty, with 
certain employees qualifying for agency premium contributions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The effective date of this final regulation is April 
16, 2007.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael W. Kaszynski, Policy Analyst, 
Insurance Policy, OPM, Room 3425, 1900 E Street NW., Washington, DC 
20415-0001. Phone number: 202-606-0004. E-mail: mwkaszy@opm.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Defense Authorization Act for 
2005 (Pub. L. 108-375 section 1101) amended FEHB law to provide up to 
24 months of continued FEHB coverage for Federal employees who are 
called or ordered to active duty in support of a contingency operation 
(5 U.S.C. 8905a), and to authorize agencies to pay the employee's share 
and the Government's share of premiums for up to 24 months (5 U.S.C. 
8906(e)(3)). The Act provides that this enhanced benefit is available 
for any employee who:
    (1) Is enrolled in the FEHB Program;
    (2) Is a member of a reserve component of the armed forces;
    (3) Is called or ordered to active duty in support of a contingency 
operation (as defined in section 101(a)(13) of title 10 U.S.C.);
    (4) Is placed on leave without pay or separated from service to 
perform active duty; and
    (5) Serves on active duty for more than 30 consecutive days.

The expanded authority for agency premium payments authorized by Public 
Law 108-375 is a valuable benefit that helps reservists and their 
families shoulder the cost of health care during a time when they need 
it most. Public Law 108-454, the Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 
2004, was enacted December 10, 2004. Section 201 of Public Law 108-454 
amended 38 U.S.C. 4317(a)(1)(A) to extend from 18 to 24 months the 
length of an employee's health insurance coverage when the employee is 
absent because of service in the uniformed services. For FEHB purposes, 
this law applies to employees who are called to active duty but do not 
meet all the requirements of Public Law 108-375. Generally, these 
employees have orders that do not show that they are called to active 
duty in support of a contingency operation. As before, they do not meet 
the requirements of FEHB law for agency premium payment during active 
duty. This final regulation's purpose is to place into rulemaking the 
requirements of Public Law 108-375 and Public Law 108-454.
    On June 20, 2006, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 
published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register at 71 FR 35397. 
OPM received comments from a Federal agency and an employee union in 
response to the proposed regulation. The Federal agency pointed out 
that 5 U.S.C. 8905a now allows the 24 months of continued coverage to 
begin on the date that the employee is placed on leave without pay or 
separated from service to perform active duty in the uniformed 
services. We agree that the law now further defines when the 24 months 
of continued coverage begins so we have made an appropriate revision to 
the regulation. The agency also asked that we clarify section 
890.502(f)(2) of the regulation to show that agency payment of the 
Government and employee contributions and any additional administrative 
expenses is only authorized while the employee is on orders to serve in 
a contingency operation and that these contributions will cease when 
the employee is no longer serving in support of a contingency 
operation. We have revised the regulation to make this clarification. A 
comment made by an employee union states that the regulation should 
authorize eligibility for continued, fully subsidized FEHB coverage for 
the entire length of a Federal employee's deployment in the unformed 
services. While we would like to offer as much support as possible to 
those in the uniformed services, the laws upon which our regulation is 
based only authorize us to offer employees up to 24 months of 
subsidized coverage, at the agency's discretion, while serving in 
support of a contingency operation in the uniformed services. As a 
matter of law, the benefits provided for in our regulation cannot 
exceed those authorized by legislation (Pub. L. 108-375 and 108-454).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    I certify that this final regulation will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because the 
regulation affects only health insurance carriers under the Federal 
Employees Health Benefits Program.

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Review

    This regulation has been reviewed by the Office of Management and 
Budget in accordance with Executive Order 12866.

List of Subjects in 5 CFR Part 890

    Administrative practice and procedure, Government employees, Health 
facilities, Health insurance, Health professionals, Hostages, Iraq, 
Kuwait, Lebanon, Military personnel, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Retirement.


[[Page 7346]]


Office of Personnel Management.
Linda M. Springer,
Director.

0
For the reasons set forth in the preamble, OPM is amending 5 CFR part 
890 as follows:

PART 890--FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HEALTH BENEFITS PROGRAM

0
1. The authority citation for part 890 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 8913; Sec.  890.803 also issued under 50 
U.S.C. 403p, 22 U.S.C. 4069c and 4069c-1; subpart L also issued 
under section 599C of Pub. L. 101-513, 104 Stat. 2064, as amended; 
Sec.  890.102 also issued under sections 11202(f), 11232(e), 11246 
(b) and (c) of Pub. L. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251; and section 721 of 
Pub. L. 105-261, 112 Stat. 2061, unless otherwise noted.


0
2. Section 890.303 paragraph (i) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  890.303  Continuation of enrollment.

* * * * *
    (i) Service in the uniformed services. (1) The enrollment of an 
individual who separates, enters military furlough, or is placed in 
nonpay status to serve in the uniformed services under conditions that 
entitle him or her to benefits under part 353 of this chapter, or 
similar authority, may continue for the 24-month period beginning on 
the date that the employee is placed on leave without pay or separated 
from service to perform active duty in the uniformed services, provided 
that the individual continues to be entitled to benefits under part 353 
of this chapter, or similar authority. As provided for by 5 U.S.C. 
8905(a), the continuation of enrollment for up to 24 months applies to 
employees called or ordered to active duty in support of a contingency 
operation on or after September 14, 2001. The enrollment of an employee 
who met the requirements of chapter 43 of title 38, United States Code, 
on or after December 10, 2004, may continue for the 24-month period 
beginning on the date that the employee is placed on leave without pay 
or separated from service to perform active duty in the uniformed 
services, provided that the employee continues to be entitled to 
continued coverage under part 353 of this chapter, or similar 
authority.
    (2) An employee in nonpay status is entitled to continued coverage 
under paragraph (e) of this section if the employee's entitlement to 
benefits under part 353 of this chapter, or similar authority, ends 
before the expiration of 365 days in nonpay status.
    (3) If the enrollment of an employee had terminated due to the 
expiration of 365 days in nonpay status or because of the employee's 
separation from service, it may be reinstated for the remainder of the 
24-month period beginning on the date that the employee is placed on 
leave without pay or separated from service to perform active duty in 
the uniformed services, provided that the employee continues to be 
entitled to continued coverage under part 353 of this chapter, or 
similar authority.


0
3. Section 890.304 paragraphs (a)(1)(vii) and (a)(1)(viii) are revised 
to read as follows:


Sec.  890.304  Termination of enrollment.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (vii) For an employee who separates to serve in the uniformed 
services under conditions entitling him or her to benefits under part 
353 of this chapter, or similar authority, for the purpose of 
performing duty not limited to 30 days or less, the date that is 24 
months after the date that the employee is placed on leave without pay 
or separated from service to perform active duty in the uniformed 
services, or the date entitlement to benefits under part 353 of this 
chapter, or similar authority, ends, whichever is earlier, unless the 
enrollment is terminated under paragraph (a)(1)(vi) of this section.
    (viii) For an employee who is furloughed or placed on leave of 
absence under conditions entitling him or her to benefits under part 
353 of this chapter, or similar authority, the date that is 24 months 
after the date that the employee is placed on leave without pay or 
separated from service to perform active duty to serve in the uniformed 
services, or the date entitlement to benefits under part 353 of this 
chapter, or similar authority, ends, whichever is earlier, but not 
earlier than the date the enrollment would otherwise terminate under 
paragraph (a)(1)(v) of this section.
* * * * *


0
4. Section 890.502 paragraph (f) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  890.502  Employee withholdings and contributions.

* * * * *
    (f) Uniformed services. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (f)(2) 
of this section, an employee whose coverage continues under Sec.  
890.303(i) is responsible for payment of the employee share of the cost 
of enrollment for every pay period for which the enrollment continues 
for the first 365 days of continued coverage as set forth under 
paragraph (b) of this section. For coverage that continues after 365 
days in nonpay status, the employee must pay, on a current basis, the 
full subscription charge, including both the employee and Government 
shares, plus an additional 2 percent of the full subscription charge.
    (2) As provided by 5 U.S.C. 8906(e)(3), an employing agency may pay 
both the Government and employee contributions and any additional 
administrative expenses for the cost of coverage for the employee and 
the employee's family for a period of 24 months for employees called or 
ordered to active duty in support of a contingency operation on or 
after September 14, 2001. The payment of Government and employee 
contributions and any additional administrative expenses authorized by 
this section only applies to employees while they are serving in 
support of a contingency operation, and eligibility for these payments 
terminates when the employee ceases to be on orders for a contingency 
operation. Payment of these contributions and expenses is solely at the 
discretion of the employing agency.

[FR Doc. E7-2619 Filed 2-14-07; 8:45 am]
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