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Rep. Delgado Calls on Office of Personnel Management to Mitigate Impact of Shutdown on Federal Employees’ Dental & Vision Health Insurance

January 25, 2019

Following constituent inquiry, Delgado writes the agency to ensure that federal employees are not at risk for losing their dental or vision insurance

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) called on the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees federal employees, to mitigate the impact of the government shutdown on federal employees' dental and vision health insurance.

Delgado's letter addresses an issue raised by one of his constituents – that federal employees missing their paycheck because of the shutdown may now lose their dental and vision coverage if they don't pay their premiums out-of-pocket.

"This is an absurd situation – folks who are already missing their paychecks shouldn't have to deal with the additional hurdle of potentially losing their dental or vision coverage," Delgado said. In his letter to the Office of Personnel Management, he writes, "As I continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to reopen the government, I ask that you explore all possibilities to ensure that federal workers currently going without pay not suffer any additional financial hardships."

In addition to sending this letter, Delgado has been focused on ending the shutdown, helping those affected by it within the 19th Congressional District, and elevating their stories in order to draw attention to the need to end the shutdown.

Delgado has announced that his pay will be withheld for the duration of the shutdown, and he is keeping the phone lines in his offices open from 10 AM – 2 PM over the weekends to provide additional assistance. He held his first town hall in Rensselaer County amidst the shutdown on Monday, where he addressed what he is doing about the shutdown and its impact on Upstate New York. His next town hall is today in Dutchess County. Last week, Delgado met with farmers from the Hudson Valley affected by the shutdown, and attended a community dinner for federal employees who are missing their paychecks. Delgado also met with members of the Coast Guard in Saugerties, and co-sponsored a bill to pay them now.

Delgado has voted repeatedly to end the shutdown – including proposals that previously passed with bipartisan support in the Senate. He joined fellow House Democrats on a letter to Speaker Pelosi in support of continuing ongoing efforts to immediately open the government followed by negotiations on bipartisan border security measures. He is also an original cosponsor of a bill that requires the Congressional Budget Office to submit daily reports to Congress on the cost and impact of a government shutdown on the economy, and he previously sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture asking how it will address the possible lapse in benefits under the SNAP due to the government shutdown. The Department has committed to fund SNAP benefits through February, but issues remain. Delgado wrote an additional letter to the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture to ask him to quickly address an issue raised by one of Delgado's constituents: many grocery stores and other vendors are unable to process SNAP benefits – which is done through the Electronic Benefits Transfer card program – because their license has expired, and cannot be renewed due to the government shutdown.

Read Delgado's letter:

Dear Acting Director Weichert:

I am deeply concerned by the government shutdown's effect upon the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). I urge your office to use any means at its disposal to ensure that all federal employees impacted by the shutdown—those who are furloughed or working without pay—are not billed directly for dental and vision premiums as they go without a paycheck.

As you may know, federal workers and their families who receive dental and vision insurance through FEDVIP cover their premiums with paycheck deductions or pay provider allotments. In the absence of a paycheck, these deductions and allotments have stalled. Per the guidance issued by your Office on January 23, federal employees will be billed directly for their premiums after missing three consecutive pay periods—and must pay their premiums in a timely manner or risk losing coverage.

In other words, government employees who have not been paid in over a month will soon be forced to cover their premiums or risk losing their dental and vision insurance. New York's 19th District is home to more than 4,200 government employees, many of whom will miss their second paycheck on January 25. FEDVIP dental and vision plans can cost up to $100 a week—a significant burden for families already struggling to make ends meet during the shutdown.

As I continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to reopen the government, I ask that you explore all possibilities to ensure that federal workers currently going without pay not suffer any additional financial hardships. Thank you for your careful consideration of this issue.

Sincerely,

Antonio Delgado

Member of Congress

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