The proposed rule isn’t expected to have a significant economic impact because it only adds additional groups to the list of groups eligible for coverage under the federal health care system.
As part of the proposed rule change, federal health program regulations would be amended so that if a federal employee doesn’t establish that insuring their partner’s child qualifies for favorable tax treatment under applicable tax laws, the employee can be taxed on the fair market value of the coverage. As part of the process for seeking comments, OPM is specifically seeking input on how the fair market value might be calculated for different plans, including, for example, a high deductible health plan with a health reimbursement arrangement.
The proposed rule change means the children of same-sex partners of federal employees would have access to benefits unavailable to the same-sex partners themselves. The Obama administration has said it cannot extend major benefits — health and pension benefits — to the same-sex partners of federal employees because of the Defense of Marriage Act. Legislation that would extend those benefits, called the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act, was reported out of the Senate committee of jurisdiction in May, but hasn’t yet come to a floor vote.
This is excellent news! Congratulations to the Family Equality Council who had been working on this change for nearly a year to getting it announced and presumably enacted soon.