Mid-week update

The current continuing resolution funding the federal government’s operations expires a week from today. The AP (via Federal New Radio) reports that Congress is on track to timely pass the necessary appropriations bills under the framework created by last month’s budget deal. Another deadlock could occur over the debt ceiling. The continuing resolution suspended the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014, and the Treasury Secretary has predicted that extraordinary measures will only be effective for another month due to the need to pay tax refunds. Fierce Government predicts, and the FEHBlog agrees, that Congress will settle this issue too without another partial federal government shutdown.

The FEHBlog has clients (outside the FEHBP) that offer employee assistance programs. The federal government also offers EAPs to their employees. OPM explains that

An EAP is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. EAPs address a broad and complex body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders. EAP counselors also work in a consultative role with managers and supervisors to address employee and organizational challenges and needs. Many EAPs are active in helping organizations prevent and cope with workplace violence, trauma, and other emergency response situations.

In the FEHBlog’s experience, employees don’t tend to use EAPs. Business Insurance has an interesting article on why EAPs are underutilized, e.g.  privacy concerns, failure to communicate the broad range of EAP services, etc. “If you build it they will come” proved to be true in the Field of Dreams movie, but it doesn’t always work out in real life.