Alexandria, VA – In response to the introduction of H.R. 756, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017, by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Richard G. Thissen issued a statement urging members of Congress to oppose the bill. H.R. 756 is co-sponsored by Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings, D-MD, and Reps. Mark Meadows, R-NC, Dennis Ross, R-FL, Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, and Stephen F. Lynch, D-MA.
“There are simple solutions to the financial problems facing the U.S. Postal Service,” President Thissen stated, “such as eliminating the prefunding requirement outright. However, this bill takes a more complicated route – forcing current postal retirees and survivors who are satisfied with their current health insurance coverage to pay an additional $134 per month or more through Medicare to keep it.
“The reason for doing so is unconvincing. It is simply so the U.S. Postal Service can save money in a manner that avoids more politically difficult decisions.”
Thissen continued: “This is not the only path forward. Why not allow the USPS to raise the price of postage to a more reasonable amount, instead of continuing to heavily subsidize the business of bulk mailers? Why not permit the USPS to ship alcohol or provide more financial services? Why not allow the USPS to pay its health insurance bills when they are due, and not before, by ending the burdensome prefunding requirement? Unfortunately, this bill avoids making those more difficult decisions, and instead unfairly places the full burden of balancing the Postal Service’s books on the backs of 76,000 postal retirees and their survivors.
“Postal retirees should not now, after finishing long careers with the USPS, be threatened with the loss of their health insurance entirely if they do not buy additional coverage through Medicare. This not only eliminates choice with regard to health insurance for postal retirees living on fixed incomes, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for all federal retirees.
“NARFE has offered an alternative that is simple, fair and reasonable: maintain automatic enrollment of current postal retirees into Medicare Part B, but provide them with a short opt-out window of 60 or 90 days. Without this option, the bill breaks a promise regarding postal retiree health benefits and replaces the individual postal retiree’s choice of health insurance with a paternalistic requirement, at significant cost to the Medicare program.”
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The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), one of America’s oldest and largest associations, was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers. The largest federal employee/retiree organization, NARFE represents the retirement interests of nearly five million current and future federal annuitants, spouses and survivors.