NARFE Urges Opposition to House Postal Reform Bill

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.

5 Responses to "NARFE Urges Opposition to House Postal Reform Bill"

  1. Ididnotvoteforthatguy   February 1, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    OK, somebody please make me understand. Since I didn’t go through the path to retirement yet, I assume that postal workers are given the choice to continue into the FEHB program or opt for Medicare at 65. Are the 76,000 mentioned postal retirees who are over 65 and enrolled in FEHB? And my second question is: is it really that Medicare out-of-pocket costs $134 more a month than the FEHB plan; and how is that? I’m just trying to understand NARFE’s objection better. Any ideas?

    Postal retirees, at least when I retired in 2007, are NOT given the choice to choose between FEHB and Medicare – their choice, when they reach 65, is whether or not they DESIRE to sign up for Medicare. Right now, if you do not sign up for Medicare then you are not covered under Medicare – you’re covered under your FEHB. I assume that if this legislation passes then we won’t have that choice any longer – we’ll be forced into Medicare coverage. I must keep my FEHB because my wife is retired at age 62 and is not old enough for Medicare coverage…so, I must keep my FEHB to cover her…well, this means that I will have to pay for the Medicare and FEHB.

  2. Ididnotvoteforthatguy   February 2, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for the explanation. I was under the impression that FEHB will be replaced by Medicare at age 65, but after reading your comment I see there are two separate plans. In that case I think current retirees should be given the option to opt out of Medicare. Although according to APWU comments on this topic “most people who have coverage under an FEHB plan and Medicare save money in the long-run”. But I guess that 20% of current postal retirees chose not to participate in Medicare for their own personal reasons and the new bill should continue offering this option. Thanks again.

  3. Patty Olson   March 18, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    Are you sure we will be covered under FEHB. My understanding is that the health plans will move from FEHB to a Postal Service Health plan with providers who have at least a certain number of members. I hope I have this wrong.
    At age 65 we will be enrolled into Medicare and then can opt for the additional coverage through the plan.
    I have no idea what the premiums would be.

    Patty – the summary of the bill, that we have, states: “Establishes separately rated postal plans within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) beginning in January 2019.” The summary we have may be found here:

  4. Patty Olson   March 18, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    This is info I looked up from the text of the bill.

    “(c) Establishment Of The Postal Service Health Benefits Program.—

    “(1) IN GENERAL.—The Office shall establish the Postal Service Health Benefits Program under which the Office contracts with carriers to offer health benefits plans as described under this section. Except as otherwise provided under this section, any such contract shall be consistent with the requirements of this chapter for contracts under section 8902 with carriers to offer health benefits plans other than under this section. The Program shall—

    “(A) to the greatest extent practicable, include plans offered by—

    “(i) each carrier for which the total enrollment in the plans provided under this chapter includes, in the contract year beginning in January 2018, 1,500 or more enrollees who are Postal Service employees or Postal Service annuitants; and

    “(ii) any other carrier determined appropriate by the Office;

    “(B) be available for participation by all Postal Service employees and Postal Service annuitants, in accordance with subsection (d);

    “(C) provide for enrollment in a plan as an individual, for self plus one, or for self and family; and

    “(D) not be available for participation by an individual who is not a Postal Service employee or Postal Service annuitant (except as a family member of such an employee or annuitant or as provided under paragraph (5)).

    “(2) SEPARATE POSTAL SERVICE RISK POOL.—The Office shall ensure that each Program plan includes rates that reasonably and equitably reflect the cost of benefits provided to a risk pool consisting solely of Postal Service employees and Postal Service annuitants (and covered family members of such employees and annuitants), taking into specific account the reduction in benefits cost for the Program plan due to the Medicare enrollment requirements under subsection (e) and any savings or subsidies resulting from subsection (f)(1).

    “(3) ACTUARIALLY EQUIVALENT COVERAGE.—The Office shall ensure that each carrier participating in the Postal Service Health Benefits Program provides coverage under the Program plans offered by the carrier that is actuarially equivalent, as determined by the Office, to the coverage that the carrier provides under the health benefits plans offered by the carrier under this chapter that are not Program plans.

    “(4) APPLICABILITY OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HEALTH BENEFITS PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS.—Except as otherwise set forth in this section, all provisions of this chapter applicable to health benefits plans offered by the carrier under section 8903 or 8903a shall also apply to plans offered under the Program.

  5. Patty Olson   March 18, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Keep in mind this bill will put postal employees and retirees in a separate risk pool. Risk pool basics are, the larger the risk pool, less risk, lower premiums. Smaller the risk pool, greater the risk, higher premiums. This applies to all types of insurance; home, health, auto, life,

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