[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 212 (Friday, November 3, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 51170]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-23956]

Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 212 / Friday, November 3, 2017 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 51170]]


5 CFR 890

RIN: 3206-AN33

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program: FEHB Employee 
Premium Contributions for Employees in Leave Without Pay or Other 
Nonpay Status

AGENCY: U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

ACTION: Proposed rule; withdrawal.


SUMMARY: The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is 
withdrawing a previously published Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 
that would have amended the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) 
regulations at 5 CFR part 890 to provide flexibility to agencies 
regarding payment for FEHB coverage for employees entering leave 
without pay (LWOP) or any other type of nonpay status, except when 
nonpay is as a result of a lapse of appropriations. The regulation also 
would have affected employees who have insufficient pay to cover their 
premium contribution, and certain categories of employees were exempt.

DATES: OPM is withdrawing the proposed rule published August 30, 2016 
(81 FR 59518) as of November 3, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julia Elam, Program Analyst at (202) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On August 30, 2016, OPM published an NPRM 
(81 FR 59518) that would complement the FEHB Modification of 
Eligibility final regulation (79 FR 62325, published on October 17, 
2014) which allows generally for certain temporary, intermittent and 
seasonal employees to enroll in the FEHB Program if they are expected 
to work at least 130 hours per month for at least 90 days. In the NPRM, 
OPM recognized that the expansion of eligibility for FEHB coverage may 
impact an agency's budget due to the required FEHB Government health 
benefit contributions for newly eligible employees who elect to 
participate in FEHB coverage and go into LWOP or other nonpay status 
based on the intermittent nature of the work performed. The NPRM would 
have provided flexibility to agencies regarding payment for FEHB 
coverage for employees entering leave without pay (LWOP) or any other 
type of nonpay status, except when nonpay is as a result of a lapse of 
    OPM received comments from Federal employees, Federal agencies, a 
Federal shared service provider, and unions representing Federal 
employees. The majority of commenters objected to the regulation based 
on concerns that the rule would place an undue financial burden on 
Federal employees on LWOP or other nonpay status and would make it 
difficult for these employees to maintain health insurance. OPM also 
received comments about the impact of the rule on Permanent Seasonal 
Employees (PSEs). The commenters stated that PSEs are placed in nonpay 
status annually and there is a reasonable expectation that these 
employees will return to employment and repay the unpaid premiums that 
have been incurred as a debt.
    In reviewing these objections, OPM attempted to determine whether 
the potential cost savings from this proposed rulemaking outweighs the 
negative impact asserted by commenters. To estimate cost savings, OPM 
requested the current amount of unrecoverable premium debt from 
employees on LWOP and nonpay status from several agencies with large 
numbers of temporary, seasonal and intermittent employees. However, 
these agencies were generally unable to provide this data. Agencies do 
not have reliable data on unrecoverable FEHB debt because, due to 
constantly changing circumstances, these amounts are difficult to 
track. OPM did obtain one estimate of unpaid FEHB debt or FEHB debt in 
default for all employees on seasonal and intermittent Schedules in 
LWOP or insufficient pay for one agency for FY2016. The agency reported 
that total FEHB debt incurred by the agency for these employees was 
$1,068,065, but that only $48,797 of this total debt remained unpaid by 
employees once they returned to pay (or sufficient pay) status. 
Further, there are debt collection mechanisms in place to recover the 
remaining $48,797.
    Agencies must already comply with the Debt Collection Improvement 
Act (DCIA) of 1996 (DCIA) to collect delinquent debt, including FEHB 
debt. Therefore, appropriate actions are being taken for the collection 
of FEHB debt for employees entering leave without pay (LWOP) or any 
other type of nonpay status. OPM determined that the potential cost 
savings from this proposed rulemaking does not outweigh the potential 
negative impact of the undue financial burden or risk of losing health 
insurance on certain Federal employees.
    Withdrawal of this NPRM (81 FR 59518, August 30, 2016) does not 
preclude the agency from issuing future rulemakings on this issue, nor 
does it commit the agency to any course of action in the future.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Kathleen McGettigan,
Acting Director.
[FR Doc. 2017-23956 Filed 11-2-17; 8:45 am]