Statement on Signing the Federal Employees Benefits Improvement Act of 1986

February 27, 1986

Today I am signing H.R. 4061, the Federal Employees Benefits Improvement Act of 1986. H.R. 4061 changes the Federal employees' health benefits law, as recommended by my administration, to allow rebates of health insurance premiums to be paid by insurance carriers to Federal annuitants, as is already permitted for current employees. It is gratifying for me to be able to sign this legislation so that Federal annuitants can receive their health insurance rebates without further delay.

I congratulate the Congress on enacting acceptable legislation to accomplish this change so quickly after my veto of H.R. 3384 last month. Like H.R. 4061, H.R. 3384 would have authorized premium rebates for Federal annuitants. However, I could not approve that bill, particularly because it contained a seriously objectionable provision that would have eliminated the current 75-percent limit on the Government contribution to any health insurance plan for Federal employees and annuitants. That provision would have been too costly over the next few years, contrary to our efforts to achieve a balanced budget by 1991.

I am very pleased that the Congress has dropped this expensive provision, and I urge the Congress now to turn its attention to the structural reforms in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program proposed by the administration. These changes would encourage greater competition and choice of health plans for employees, restructure the formula for determining the Government's share of enrollee premiums, and decrease government intrusion in the program.

Note: H.R. 4061, approved February 27, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 251.