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Rule

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program and Department of Defense (DoD) Demonstration Project

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Office of Personnel Management.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

OPM is issuing a final regulation to implement the portion of the National Defense Authorization Act for 1999 that establishes authority for a demonstration project under which certain Medicare and other eligible DoD beneficiaries can enroll in health benefit plans in certain geographic areas under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. The demonstration project will run for a period of three years from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2002. This regulation specifies only the requirements that differ from existing FEHB Program regulations because of unique aspects of the demonstration project.

DATES:

The effective date of this regulation is July 3, 2000.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Michael W. Kaszynski, Policy Analyst, Insurance Policy and Information Division, OPM, Room 3425, 1900 E Street, NW., Washington, DC 20415-0001. He can also be reached at (202) 606-0004 or by electronic mail (E-mail) at: mwkaszyn@opm.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The purpose of this regulation is to implement the portion of the National Defense Authorization Act for 1999, Public Law 105-261, that amended chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code, and chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, to establish a demonstration project under which certain Medicare and other eligible DoD beneficiaries can enroll in health benefit plans offered under the FEHB Program. The legislation was signed into law on October 17, 1998. The demonstration project will run for a period of three years from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2002. DoD, with OPM concurrence, has selected eight geographic areas to serve as demonstration areas. The legislation requires that between 6 and 10 geographic areas be selected. No more than 66,000 individuals can participate in the demonstration project at any one time. Beneficiaries who are provided coverage under the demonstration project will not be eligible to receive care at a military medical treatment facility or to enroll in a health care plan under DoD's TRICARE program. Individuals who disenroll or cancel enrollment from the demonstration project are not eligible to reenroll in the demonstration project. OPM will establish separate risk pools for developing demonstration project enrollee premium rates. The government contribution for demonstration enrollees will be paid by DoD and cannot exceed the maximum percentage or dollar amount that the government would have contributed had the enrollee been enrolled as a regular FEHB enrollee in the same health benefits plan and at the same level of benefits.

The legislation requires OPM and DoD to jointly produce and submit two reports to Congress designed to assess the viability of expanding access to the FEHB Program to certain Medicare and other eligible DoD beneficiaries permanently. The first report is due by April 1, 2001; the second is due by December 31, 2002. The reports will focus on enrollee participation levels, impact on Medicare Part B enrollment, premium rates and costs as compared to those for regular FEHB enrollees, impact on accessibility of care in military treatment facilities, impact on medical readiness and training in military treatment facilities, impact on the cost, accessibility, and availability of prescription drugs for DoD beneficiaries, and recommendations on eligibility and enrollment.

OPM has determined it necessary to specify certain differences from existing FEHB Program regulations because of the unique features of the demonstration project. This regulation amends Part 890 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to authorize these differences. Should the program be extended beyond the three year demonstration project period, we will regulate to address any necessary changes to these provisions.

On July 6,1999, OPM published an interim regulation in the Federal Register (64 FR 36237). OPM subsequently received one comment from a trade association representing FEHB fee-for-service/PPO plans. The commenter indicated that the regulation does not address whether FEHB carriers must issue certificates of creditable coverage required under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and asked if this was required under the demonstration project. The regulation is intended to change normal FEHB Program practice where specifically indicated. It is not intended to affect practices that have not been specifically addressed. Therefore, carriers must issue certificates of creditable coverage to meet the requirements of HIPAA for demonstration project enrollees the same as they do for regular FEHB Program enrollees.

Other minor clarifying changes have been made to the regulation.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

I certify that this regulation will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because the regulation will only affect health insurance carriers under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Review

This rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with Executive Order 12866.

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List of Subjects in 5 CFR Part 890

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Office of Personnel Management.

Janice R. Lachance,

Director.

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For the reasons set forth in the preamble, OPM is amending

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PART 890—FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HEALTH BENEFITS PROGRAM

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1. The authority citation for part 890 is revised to read as follows:

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Authority: 5 U.S.C. 8913; § 890.803 also issued under 50 U.S.C. 403p, 22 U.S.C. 4069c and 4069c-1; subpart L also issued under sec. 599C of Pub. L. 101-513, 104 Stat. 2064, as amended; § 890.102 also issued under sections 11202(f), 11232(e), 11246 (b) and (c) of Pub. L. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251; and section 721 of Pub. L. 105-261, 112 Stat. 2061.

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PART 890—FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HEALTH BENEFITS PROGRAM

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2. A new Subpart M is revised to read as follows:

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Subpart M—Department of Defense Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Demonstration Project
890.1301
Purpose.
890.1302
Duration.
890.1303
Eligibility.
890.1304
Enrollment.
890.1305
Termination and cancellation.
890.1306
Government premium contributions.
890.1307
Data collection.
890.1308
Carrier participation.

Subpart M—Department of Defense Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Demonstration Project

Purpose.

The purpose of this subpart is to implement section 721 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 1999, Public Law 105-261. This section amended chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code, and chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, to establish a demonstration project under which certain Medicare and other eligible Department of Defense (DoD) beneficiaries can enroll in health benefit plans offered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program in certain geographic areas. The legislation was signed into law on October 17, 1998. The demonstration project will run for a period of three years. The legislation requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and DoD to jointly produce and submit two reports to Congress designed to assess the viability of expanding access to the FEHB Program to certain Medicare and other eligible DoD beneficiaries permanently. OPM is authorizing certain differences from regular FEHB Program practices in order to ensure the successful implementation of the demonstration project. This regulation authorizes those differences.

Duration.

The demonstration project will run from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2002.

Eligibility.

(a) To enroll in the demonstration project, an individual must live within one of the demonstration areas and meet the definition of an eligible beneficiary in 10 U.S.C. 1108(b). An eligible beneficiary under this subpart is—

(1) A member or former member of the uniformed services described in section 1074(b) of title 10, United States Code, who is entitled to hospital insurance benefits under part A of title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395c et seq.);

(2) An individual who is an unremarried former spouse of a member or former member described in section 1072(2)(F) or section 1072(2)(G) of title 10, United States Code;

(3) An individual who is—

(i) A dependent of a deceased member or former member described in section 1076(b) or 1076(a)(2)(B) of title 10, United States Code, or of a member who died while on active duty for a period of more than 30 days; and

(ii) A “member of family” as defined in section 8901(5) of title 5, United States Code; or

(4) An individual who is—

(i) A dependent of a living member or former member described in section 1076(b)(1) of title 10, United States Code, who is entitled to hospital insurance benefits under part A of title XVIII of the Social Security Act, regardless of the member's or former member's eligibility for such hospital insurance benefits; and

(ii) A “member of family” as defined in section 8901(5) of title 5, United States Code.

(b) An eligible beneficiary may enroll in an FEHB plan under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, for self-only coverage or for self and family coverage. A self and family enrollment will include coverage of a dependent of the military member or former member who meets the definition of a “member of family” in section 8901(5) of title 5, United States Code. A self and family enrollment will not cover a person related to the eligible beneficiary that does not qualify as a “member of family” (as defined in section 8901(5) of title 5, United States Code) of the military member or former member.

(c) A person eligible for coverage under this subpart shall not be required to satisfy any eligibility criteria specified in chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, or in other subparts of this part (except as provided in paragraphs (a)(3), (a)(4), and (b) of this section) as a condition for enrollment in health benefit plans offered through the FEHB Program under the demonstration project.

(d) When determining whether an individual is a “member of family” under section 8901(5) of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of paragraph (a)(3) and (a)(4) of this section, a DoD member or former member described in section 1076(b) or 1076(a)(2)(B) of title 10, United States Code, shall be deemed to be an employee under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code. The sole purpose for deeming these members or former members of the uniformed services employees under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, is to determine which of their dependents can enroll as eligible beneficiaries in the demonstration project.

(e) A person who is eligible to enroll in the FEHB Program as an employee as defined in section 8901(1) of title 5, United States Code, is not eligible to enroll in an FEHB plan under the demonstration project.

Enrollment.

(a) Open Season for eligible beneficiaries will be held concurrent with the Open Season for regular FEHB enrollees. Open Seasons will be held in the years 1999, 2000 and 2001. Eligible beneficiaries will be able to enroll for coverage, change enrollment tiers (e.g., self-only or self and family), or change health benefit plans or plan options during these periods.

(b) Enrolled eligible beneficiaries are required to pay associate membership dues if they enroll in open employee organization sponsored plans that are participating in the demonstration project.

(c) DoD will deny enrollment of eligible beneficiaries when the total number of eligible beneficiaries and family members enrolled in the demonstration project reaches 66,000.

(d) Eligible beneficiaries can enroll only in health plans offered by health benefit carriers who are participating in the demonstration project.

(e) Eligible beneficiaries and family members enrolled in the demonstration project are not eligible to obtain services from military medical treatment facilities or to enroll in a health care plan under the TRICARE Program.

(f) An eligible beneficiary enrolled in an FEHB plan under the demonstration project may change health benefits plans and coverage in the same manner as any other FEHB Program enrollee, except as provided for in this subpart.

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Termination and cancellation.

(a) If an enrolled eligible beneficiary moves out of a demonstration area, the enrollment of the eligible beneficiary and all family members will be terminated. If an enrolled eligible beneficiary moves to an area located within a demonstration area, he or she will continue to be eligible to participate in the demonstration project. If the eligible beneficiary was enrolled prior to the move in an HMO that does not serve the new demonstration area, the eligible beneficiary will have an opportunity to select a new health plan offered by a carrier participating in the demonstration project in the new area. If the eligible beneficiary was enrolled in a fee-for-service plan prior to the move and moves to another area that is within an existing demonstration area, the eligible beneficiary can maintain his or her current coverage.

(b) If an enrolled eligible beneficiary disenrolls, cancels, or terminates enrollment for any reason, he or she will not be eligible to reenroll in the demonstration project. Once coverage ends, eligible beneficiaries and all family members have the right to resume all of the benefits to which they are entitled to under title 10 of the United States Code. Medicare-covered eligible beneficiaries and their eligible family members who had Medigap policies prior to their enrollment in the demonstration project are entitled to reinstate that coverage under the conditions stated in section 1108(l) of title 10, United States Code.

(c) Eligible beneficiaries and their family members are eligible for Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) under the conditions and for the durations described in subpart K or until the end of the demonstration project, whichever occurs first. The effective date of TCC for eligible beneficiaries or their eligible family members will be the day after other coverage under this subpart ends. Eligible beneficiaries or their eligible family members selecting TCC must enroll in a health plan offered by a carrier participating in the demonstration project. If an eligible beneficiary or eligible family member enrolled in DoD TCC moves from a demonstration project area, coverage ends. DoD TCC enrollees will be responsible for paying the entire DoD premium rate (OPM's approved net-to-carrier DoD rate plus 4 percent for contingency and administration reserves) plus 2 percent of this premium rate for administration of the program. DoD will make arrangements to collect premiums plus the 2 percent administrative charge from eligible beneficiaries and forward them to OPM's Employees Health Benefits Fund. OPM will establish procedures for receiving the 2 percent administrative payment into the Employees Health Benefits Fund and making this amount available to DoD for administration of the program.

(d) Enrolled eligible beneficiaries are not eligible for the temporary extension of coverage and conversion opportunities described in subpart D of this part.

Government premium contributions.

The Secretary of Defense is responsible for the government contribution for enrolled eligible beneficiaries and family members. The government contribution toward demonstration project premium rates will be determined in accordance with subpart E of this part.

Data collection.

Each carrier will compile, maintain, and when requested by OPM or DoD, report data on its plan's experience necessary to produce reports containing the following information and analysis:

(a) The number of eligible beneficiaries who elect to participate in the demonstration project.

(b) The number of eligible beneficiaries who elected to participate in the demonstration project and did not have Medicare Part B coverage before electing to participate.

(c) The costs of health benefits charges and the costs (direct and indirect) of administering the benefits and services provided to eligible beneficiaries who elect to participate in the demonstration project as compared to similarly situated enrollees in the FEHB Program.

(d) Prescription drug costs for demonstration project beneficiaries.

Carrier participation.

(a) All carriers who participate in the FEHB Program and provide benefits to enrollees in the geographic areas selected as demonstration project areas must participate in the demonstration project, except as provided for in paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this section.

(b) Carriers who have less than 300 FEHB enrollees may, but are not required to, participate in the demonstration project.

(c) Carriers may, but are not required to, participate in the demonstration project if their service area overlaps a small portion (as determined by OPM) of a demonstration project geographic area.

(d) Carriers offering fee-for-service plans with enrollment limited to specific groups will not participate in the demonstration project.

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[FR Doc. 00-13850 Filed 6-1-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6325-01-U