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FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HAVE RESERVATIONS ON NATIONAL HEALTH CARE

 WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's largest independent federal employee union, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), today praised President Clinton for "persistence under fire during the time it has taken to craft the country's first national health care program."
 Robert M. Tobias, NTEU president called the president's plan "a step in the right direction to provide health insurance coverage for millions of Americans who lack it. But while we praise the effort, we must express some reservations with regard to the impact on federal workers," he said. "Several key elements appear to be missing."
 Tobias said the fact that the current Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) would be rolled into state-held health "alliances" that do not contain levels of coverage available in the FEHBP is perplexing. "The vast majority of federal employees now chose fee-for-service plans, the most popular of which offer benefit packages in excess of the president's plan," he said. "These include 100 percent coverage of in-patient hospitalization and emergency care, the ability to purchase prescription drugs using drug cards or mail order without deductible and routine preventive dental care. All appear to be out of the administration's guaranteed package," he said.
 "Furthermore, it is my understanding that the 80 percent employer paid premium would be pegged to the average premium in an alliance," Tobias said. "This feature alone could well result in an employer benefit that ends up being less in actual dollar coverage than the current average government contribution of 72 percent towards FEHBP premiums."
 Tobias added that there are too many details left out of the president's offering and too many potential devils waiting to add details that would reduce coverage for federal workers. We will be working hard with Congress and the administration to fill in the apparent blanks in the Clinton plan," he said.
 Tobias said that among the issues that will be critical as final national health care takes shape will be guarantees that employee unions could bargain for additional benefits not covered in the Clinton plan and that the government would be required to contribute to supplemental benefits packages. "Such guarantees would ensure that all present benefits, co-payments and deductibles not covered under a national plan would be retained," Tobias said. "The administration has stated time and time again that a national health plan would not leave federal workers less well off than they are under FEHBP," he said. "We intend to make sure that's the case before we support any final package."
 -0- 9/22/93
 /CONTACT: George King or Susan Holliday of the National Treasury Employees Union, 202-783-4444 or 202-508-3730/


CO: National Treasury Employees Union ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU: EXE

DC-DS -- DC053 -- 4916 09/22/93 17:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Words:455
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