DoJ employee advocacy group calls for better federal health care coverage of infertility treatments

The employee advocacy group is asking OPM to expand health carrier requirements to cover IVF treatments, on top of medications, for plan year 2025.

  • An employee advocacy group is calling for better federal health care coverage of infertility treatments. The Department of Justice Gender Equality Network (DOJ GEN) said it is grateful for the steps taken so far. Carriers in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program already have new requirements to cover three medication cycles of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). But the advocacy group wants the Office of Personnel Management to take things a step further. DOJ GEN is now asking OPM to expand health carrier requirements to cover IVF treatments, on top of medications, for plan year 2025. DOJ GEN’s letter to OPM calling for the changes comes a few months ahead of this year’s Open Season for FEHB participants.
  • Democrats are warning that proposed budget cuts could lead to some staff layoffs. A draft appropriations bill from House Republicans proposes a 10% spending decrease for fiscal 2025. But Democrats opposed to the budget reductions said they are concerned about the ability of some particular agencies to handle large budget cuts. “Our agencies often have smaller budgets, and thus less flexibility to deal with the cuts. Our agencies have to layoff staff, severely undermining their ability to function,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said. The fiscal 2025 spending bill now heads to the full committee for consideration. Members of a GOP-led subcommittee advanced the legislation along party lines Wednesday.
  • House appropriators will not support the Biden administration’s funding request for a new FBI headquarters building. The House Appropriations Committee’s 2025 general government spending bill rejects a plan to invest $3.5 billion to build a new FBI headquarters in Greenbelt, Maryland. The bill also restricts the General Services Administration from spending any existing funds on the new headquarters. GSA had proposed the $3.5 billion investment as part of its 2025 budget request. The agency announced plans to replace the crumbling J. Edgar Hoover Building with a new headquarters in Greenbelt last November.
  • House Republicans have proposed defunding the IRS’ Direct File platform that allows households to file their federal tax returns online and for free. The GOP-led House Appropriations Committee is backing a spending bill that would cut IRS funding by nearly 18% and zero-out funding for Direct File. IRS enforcement would see the worst cuts in this proposal, with a $2 billion reduction in funding. Republican lawmakers have criticized the IRS for not seeking congressional approval to launch the Direct File pilot. But IRS said it has the authority to update the tools that taxpayers use to file their taxes. This year's IRS Direct File pilot program included 12 states. It plans to make the program permanent and has invited all 50 states and the District of Columbia to opt in.
  • The Space Force is accepting applications from Air Force Reservists in space-related career fields to become full-time Guardians. Beginning June 1, Air Force reservists can transfer to the Space Force under the Space Force Personnel Management Act. Officers in space and cyber operations, intelligence, developmental engineer, acquisition manager and scientist career fields are eligible to apply. Application windows for Air Force Reservists, who are interested in transferring to the Space Force in a part-time capacity, are expected to open in 2026.
  • Agencies now have an easier way to avoid buying products that use single-use plastic packaging. The General Services Administration is establishing a new specialty icon in its schedule ordering systems, including GSA Advantage, to help agencies identify products that are free from single-use plastic packaging. In a final rule to GSA's acquisition regulations published today, the agency is trying to incentivize vendors through marketing opportunities to move away from this type of packaging. GSA is making this change to the schedules program after receiving a recommendation from its Acquisition Policy Federal Advisory Committee, as a way to reduce this waste stream. GSA said it will issue implementation guidance to contracting offices in the coming weeks.
  • Quan Boatman is the new director of the Interior Business Center. Boatman has been IBC's deputy director since 2021 and replaces Bryon Adkins, who left to join the Farm Credit Administration in November. As director of IBC, Boatman will oversee the fee-for-service organization that offers acquisition, financial management and human resources systems and services to federal organizations. IBC provides shared services to support Interior Department offices and bureaus, as well as to over 150 other agencies. Prior to coming to IBC, Boatman worked at the General Services Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency overseeing governmentwide programs and initiatives.
  • The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is calling for stronger cybersecurity regulations in the healthcare sector. Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the Department of Health and Human Services should mandate minimum cyber standards for big health institutions. In a letter to HHS, Wyden said lax cyber practices have allowed hackers to steal sensitive patient data and shut down parts of the healthcare system. Wyden’s letter comes as lawmakers consider how to respond to the Change Healthcare ransomware attack and other healthcare cyber incidents.
    (Letter to HHS on cybersecurity standards - Senate Finance Commitee)
  • The Defense Innovation Unit and the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office have agreed to deepen their existing partnership and work together to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies across the Defense Department. The leaders of the two organizations signed a memorandum of agreement formalizing their collaboration that is necessary to implement commercially available technologies related to data, software and artificial intelligence. Areas of collaboration include scaling commercial AI and experimenting with digital technologies to support the Pentagon’s combined joint all-domain command and control initiative, known as CJADC2.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is rolling out a text-messaging service that will remind veterans to take follow-up steps in their health care. VA will send text messages to vets with medication reminders, surgery preparation instructions, and next steps after medical appointments. The Veterans Health Administration is implementing this text-messaging service nationwide, after a VA medical center testing it saw a more than 50% reduction in canceled surgeries. VA worked with Accenture Federal Services to develop the text-messaging service, which it calls "Annie."

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