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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Contact: Cathy McDermott
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James and HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson Launch HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge

New Campaign Urges Federal Workforce to Get Moving for Health

Washington, DC - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today launched the HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge, the first governmentwide effort to encourage all 2.7 million Federal employees to get moving for health. The six-week campaign, which is part of President George W. Bush's HealthierUS initiative, will help inform the Federal workforce on how to make physical activity a daily habit.

More than half of American adults do not get enough physical activity to gain health benefits. The HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge provides all Federal employees the tools and motivation to take steps to improve their health and well-being.

"President Bush is committed to providing the Federal team with the policies, benefits, and tools necessary for them to take control of their own healthcare needs," said Director James. "Federal employees will have 249 options under the Federal health plan in 2005, they will have access to both Flexible Savings Accounts and Health Savings Accounts, and today, they have a powerful web tool to monitor their fitness progress. Secretary Thompson and I trust Federal employees to make the right decisions necessary to improve their fitness and choose the best healthcare for themselves and their family."

As part of OPM's overall efforts to educate Federal employees on health issues, OPM created a new website on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), www.opm.gov/hsa, highlighting this new tax-advantaged option introduced as part of the 2005 Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. HSAs empower Federal employees with greater choice and control over how they use their hard-earned dollars to meet the health care needs of themselves and their families. Illustrating the high level of interest in HSAs, and the willingness of employees to actively educate themselves on health issues, just two weeks after the new site was posted, over 40,000 individuals have visited the site to learn more.

Secretary Thompson also highlighted the importance of physical health on a personal level saying, "I challenge the Federal workforce to make physical activity a daily part of their lives...our Federal employees particularly in HealthierFeds will set an example for others across the nation."

The 2004 HealthierFeds campaign is comprised of three components: 1) education and awareness, 2) personal progress and responsibility, and 3) benchmarking/best practices. The website, www.healthierfeds.gov, includes health information for employees and agencies, including information on the new tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts, FEHB carriers' information, and downloadable posters and other materials.

Additionally, the HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge will utilize the President's Challenge, a program of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, which calls for adults to be active for at least 30 minutes a day on five or more days each week.

"Besides reducing demand on the health care system and its associated costs, the HealthierFeds Physical Activity Challenge can inspire many of our employees to make lifestyle changes that will make them healthier and more productive public servants," James added. "We intend HealthierFeds to be a model for agencies as well as for private employers."

For more information on HealthierFeds and to sign up for the challenge, visit www.healthierfeds.gov.

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.


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