Bipartisan group introduces legislation to protect federal workers' health benefits during shutdowns

A bipartisan and bicameral group of legislators introduced two different bills Tuesday to protect federal workers from losing health benefits during a government shutdown.

“Government shutdowns place thousands of federal employees and their families in very difficult positions," the legislators said in a statement.

"While we truly hope to avoid shutdowns in the future, the measures we are introducing today would ensure that federal employees could enroll their newborn babies in their health insurance plans and that they would not lose their dental, vision, or long-term care insurance if another funding lapse occurs."

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“We owe it to our civil servants to mitigate the impact of funding lapses over which they have no control," they said.

The bicameral group cited a record-long 35-day partial government shutdown that lasted from Dec. 22 to late January. Roughly a quarter of the government shut down, furloughing roughly 800,000 federal employees and contractors.

The Internet was quickly flooded with stories of the workers facing financial difficulties or having to take on second jobs to pay the bills. Reports surfaced that some federal employees faced struggles to get newborn babies covered under their health insurance since some agencies were not processing new enrollments or changes to enrollments. Other struggled to pay premiums for dental, vision, and long-term care insurance. 

The legislators touted the endorsements of several groups, including the American Federation of Government Employees, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.