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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

Office of Personnel Management Issues Call Letter to Federal Employee Health Benefits Program Carriers

Letter encourages health plans to consider benefits enhancements in care management and promotes health information technology; discusses new dental and vision benefit for the Federal family

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued its annual Call Letter which provides guidance and negotiation objectives for benefit and rate proposals to health plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.

In the Call Letter (attached), OPM encourages carriers to continue supporting the American civil service by addressing specific issues, including health information technology, additional High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) options with the Health Savings Accounts (HSA), care management, dental and vision benefits, and overall quality and safety.

"As we seek to provide high quality, affordable health care to our employees, our focus, as directed by President George W. Bush, is greater access to good health care coverage and more control over health care decisions," stated Stephen Benowitz, OPM Associate Director for Human Resources Products and Services. "We appreciate the work that has already been done, and we encourage innovative proposals for comprehensive benefit packages that will keep health care affordable for the Federal family."

Following the leadership of President Bush and his Health Information Technology (HIT) initiative of 2004, this year's Call Letter presents steps carriers can use to promote information technology including respecting enrollee privacy.  The 10-year HIT initiative promotes a health-care infrastructure for all Americans that establishes electronic medical records and allows doctors to electronically send prescription orders to pharmacists.

While refraining from issuing any benefit mandates, the Call Letter encourages continued support of options such as HDHPs with HSAs and preventive care through screenings and vaccines.  OPM also expresses its commitment to promoting programs and practices to address the complex health-care needs of individuals with chronic conditions, including obesity, depression, and disease prevention through smoking-cessation.

This year, OPM begins implementing the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Benefits Enhancement Act of 2004.  OPM will issue a Request for Proposals by late summer and select carriers by the end of the year in order to conduct an Open Season in the spring of 2006.

In the conclusion of the letter, OPM explains: "The President continues to make high- quality, affordable health care for all Americans a national goal.  We encourage you to provide your best creative ideas to keep the FEHB Program competitive and cost-effective.  We look forward to receiving your rate and benefit proposals."

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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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