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09.19.16

IFPTE Requests Deadline Delay, Legislation to Protect FLTCIP Participants

September 19, 2016

Honorable Jason Chaffetz, Chair
Committee on Oversight & Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Building
Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member
Committee on Oversight & Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
2147 Rayburn House Building
Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings:

As President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) I am writing regarding the steep increase announced by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). Unless Congress steps in, or OPM delays the increase, on September 30th FLTCIP participants will have to decide to accept or decline the steep premium increases that go into effect on November 1st. The premium increases will average from 83% to as high as 126%. As a union representing tens of thousands of federal employees, IFPTE has already requested that Congress not only hold hearings on this issue, but also investigate these steep increases. We are also requesting several legislative proposals aimed at ensuring the reliability of the program.

This news comes on top of the past many years of federal employee pay freezes, pension cuts for new hires, increases in Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) premiums, and a government shutdown and furlough days as a result of sequestration. Having to now experience a more than doubling of the premium for long term care insurance only adds salt to the wound, particularly considering that with sound actuarial analysis, and adequate planning after the 2009 increase, this should have been avoided. It is a mystery to IFPTE and our members as to how the actuarial projections could have been so far off as to cause workers to experience a more than 100% increase in their premiums. And, without hearings to bring transparency about the heath and reliability of this benefit, many members of IFPTE are wondering if this benefit is worth continuing.

Given your standing as the leaders of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, IFPTE would like to ask that each of you consider the following requests:

1. Send a letter to OPM and/or introduce and foster to passage legislation - to extend out the current September 30th deadline in which federal workers enrolled in this benefit have to decide to continue with it at the steep premium increases, or opt out of the benefit and lose all of the premium monies they have previously paid toward the benefit. To date there have been no hearings at all on this issue and it appears that the earliest a hearing may occur won’t be until after the November elections. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty as to the possibility of future premium increases and the reliability of the benefit itself. Furthermore, OPM has not provided sufficient information to employees as to why these unprecedented premium increases are occurring. More time is necessary for federal workers to acquire accurate and comprehensive actuarial and other information necessary to make informed decisions as to their future participation in the plan.

2. Introduce a bill to allow federal employees signed up for this benefit to get back all or part of their past premium payments if they elect to end their benefit before their current premiums go up - Specifically, we ask for legislation to require OPM to negotiate a deal with the insurance provider that would allow federal employees to get at least some of the premium money back if they choose to exit the program. If OPM is not successful in negotiating a settlement in a reasonable timeframe, they would then be required to pursue legal action against the provider seeking damages. Since the provider would be required to reimburse premium monies, IFPTE believes this would result in a minimal, if any, cost to taxpayers.

3. Introduce and pass ‘Rate Stability Regulation’ legislation - to protect federal employees holding FLTCIP polices from experiencing excessive premium increases moving forward. Many States currently have some form of insurance rate regulations in place to protect their citizens, and the federal government should have the same for the FLTCIP.

4. Introduce and pass legislation to ensure the reliability of the benefit for all FLTCIP federal policies holders – In the event that there are no bidders in seven years, fourteen years, etc…Within 30 days OPM will take over all standing FLTCIP policies; collect all of the escrowed FLTCIP fund resources from current and past providers collected from FLTCIP participants; and, collect future monthly premiums from current federal FLTCIP policy holders to be used to fulfill the benefits for those who meet the requirements of the FLTCIP and do become disabled This is to be done if the current incumbent FLTCIP provider stops selling or providing long-term care insurance under any current federal contract, or abandons the FLTCIP contract.

The clock is running and it is IFPTE’s belief that Congressional action is necessary to ensure federal workers that they have not fallen victim to a Ponzi scheme.

Thank you for your consideration. Should you or your staff have any questions please contact IFPTE Legislative Director, Matt Biggs, at (202) 239-4880.

Sincerely,

Gregory J. Junemann,
President

Cc: Hon. Gerald Connolly
Hon. Eleanor Holmes-Norton

IFPTE's letter to Oversight/Government Reform Committee Leadership

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