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Campus Notebook: Staffers to See Health Premiums Rise

Increases Still Less Than Those Faced by the Insured in the Private Sector

Congressional staffers will see their health insurance premiums increase in 2011, but the rate of increase will be lower than that projected for the private sector, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Premiums for enrollees of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will rise by an average of 7.2 percent ‘ less than last year’s increase of 8.8 percent and less than private-sector employer-sponsored health insurance plans, which are projected to increase from 8.9 percent to 10.5 percent.

That means for each pay period, staffers will pay on average $5.53 more with self-only coverage and $11.45 with family coverage.

Those who have Blue Cross Blue Shield Standard Option coverage, the most popular federal plan, will see premiums increase by 6.9 percent for self-only coverage and 7.6 percent for family coverage.

The OPM has also added extended benefits for preventive care and coverage for dependants up to age 26, in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.

It is also offering new tobacco cessation programs, such as full coverage for seven Food and Drug Administration-approved medications, four counseling sessions per quitting attempt and two quitting attempts per year.

The plans will have increased aid for assisted listening devices and will offer testing for up to four transplant donors for bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

Walk the Plank

Capitol Hill denizens who traverse the West Front have probably noticed a plank of wood redirecting them off the sidewalk past the Capitol Summer House.

Unless they circle around to the East Front or walk on the street, they’ll continue to walk the plank through November.

The Architect of the Capitol has been replacing sidewalks around the Capitol campus and is focusing on the West Front, AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki said.

‘This work will continue into November, weather permitting,’ she said.

‘More replacement work is planned on the West Front through November and then will start up again in the spring.’

The past few months have seen sidewalk replacement projects at D Street near the Cannon House Office Building, at Constitution Avenue and First Street Northwest, and at several other locations throughout the campus.

The repairs make the campus safer and more accessible, Malecki said.

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