Chapter Chatter - May 19, 2015

In today's Chatter, we discuss the following:

  • Phased Retirement
  • Dental Care Insurance Provider

Phased Retirement

On May 6, 2015, the agency issued a System News outlining the status of the Phased Retirement program.

NTEU has previously expressed its dissatisfaction and disagreement with OCC management’s approach here, which essentially tables consideration of implementation of this program for OCC employees.

While we recognize that OPM’s regulations provide for limited flexibility with respect to some aspects of the program, many of these concern matters that most directly affect the employees participating in the program. As such, these are decisions that should be made by an employee in deciding whether or not to apply for participation in the program – not decisions that should be made pre-emptively or paternalistically by the agency, by deciding not to have a program at all. The list of “considerations” that management provided (linked to in that announcement), and which we discussed at the Labor Management Forum (LMF) in March 2015, comes off as just a list of excuses for not having a program.

In the LMF, management indicated “to our knowledge, the only agency to date that has adopted this program is the Library of Congress.” However, we informed management then that NTEU has an agreement to implement the program with the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRC), and that we are actively working with the FDIC on implementation of a program. The FDIC has provided NTEU with a list of eligible positions, and NTEU is still providing its feedback on this. For FDIC, the issue is not “if” there will be a program – the only issues are “when,” and what positions will be covered. We provided a copy of the MOU negotiated with NRC.

As a result, NTEU did not agree with the issuance of the employee status message. The agency is messenging that it is not actively pursuing implementation of this program. NTEU is messaging to everyone that we do not agree with the agency's rationale, and that NTEU will continue to pursue implementation of this program.

While many of you may not be aware of many of the Peer Review action plans, this was one of them:

Action 36: Implement Office of Personnel Management’s Phased Retirement Program as soon as practicable and as appropriate for the OCC.

  • Establish cross-organizational implementation team led by Human Capital.
  • Evaluate final regulations and develop parameters for OCC implementation.
  • Develop staffing succession plan – identify key positions based on business needs.
  • Develop communication plan.
  • Design/develop resource materials (fact sheets, Office of Management At A Glance)for employees and managers.

Even this had caveats in it. However, it is somewhat ironic that the only real actionable item regarding employee retention that came out of the Peer Review Survey is the action item above that the agency has chosen not to pursue.

Dental Care Insurance Provider

By this time, all of us have gone through or are still transitioning to a new dental care provider. The experience is not unlike what we went through when we lost the VSP vision care plan to United Healthcare due to a processing issue.

While the objective was to go to a plan that reasonably matched up between providers, we already have heard about some items that do not match up. That is, contracted rates and reimbursements for work done by a non-Delta health care providers can vary widely from Cigna. Admittedly, these rates may not be compared when considering new providers, and the insurance carrier change assumes everyone moves to a Delta provider dentist (if their current dentist is not part of the plan). If for any reason you want to keep your current dentist (who is not Delta), you may get the same reimbursement percentage (60%) on crown work but the Delta contracted rate for non-providers may be lower than Cignas for certain types of crown work.

We would like to know what your experience has been with the new provider. We are aware that there are good reports out there about the change. But as we previously alluded to, there are certain factors that do not get examined when considering changes. Some people want to keep their dentist, regardless of whether they are part of Delta, whether it is simply for familiarity or quality of work. Some people have proximity issues when it comes to a dentist. Family size can make convenience a priority. Please let us know if Delta is meeting your expectations or not.

In case you have not registered with the Delta website yet, there are some non-intuitive aspects to it. If you do a search for Dental in the OCCNet, you will come to this page:


Then, if you click on the link to Delta Dental Web Site, you will come to this site:

If you are using the PPO, you have to click on the Delta Dental PPO link on the right (Manage your account) and you will come to this page:

At this point, this is where you register and can look at your claims, etc., and also print out a “participant card” with your program info.

As you can appreciate, just like Blue Cross does not talk well with FEPBlue, Delta Dental does not talk well to Delta Dental Fed. So, some of you may have discovered that if your dentist simply filed a claim with Delta or they called them directly, the customer service representative may have told you or your dental office on the phone: “employee unknown”.

Good or bad, we appreciate all feedback on this.