Most of the article below was written by Matthew Paxton IV. Mr. Paxton is the publisher of The News-Gazette, Lexington, Virginia, and the president of the National Newspaper Association (NNA). Comments by Rick Owens – Editor Postal Employee Network
Mr. Paxton says “Most people get mail every day, Monday through Saturday. But what happens when the mail comes later than we expect? Who needs the mail, some people ask? We have the Internet now. But a lot happens in the mail, and a lot goes wrong when it is late. To begin with, mail is the backbone for about $1.3 trillion in jobs, products and services. And then there is the personal impact.”
He goes on to say “Some things just can’t be emailed. It is hard to send your grandkid’s birthday cake overnight by the Internet. Some farm supply houses use the mail to deliver small animals quickly. They certainly can’t zap them across broadband, or allow them to die in a post office waiting for a mail truck.”
But here’s the real reason Mr. Paxton and the NNA is concerned over postal reform – he states “I have to mention late newspapers, where sales coupons are missed and public event announcements arrive after the event. Newspapers like this one that rely on the mail for delivery to readers took it on the chin the past few years, with disappointed readers canceling their subscriptions.”
Mr. Paxton continues “A bill was sent to House Ways and Means Committee last March by the House committee responsible for overseeing the U.S. Postal Service. The bill, HR 756, is now sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and three Democrats, Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Gerald Connolly of Virginia and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts. The legislation would require about 77,000 retired postal workers who draw benefits from a federal benefits health fund to use Medicare instead. Medicare taxes were already paid for these workers. The Medicare fund owes these retirees their benefits anyway. It is just that this group has chosen a different benefit for themselves, which they were allowed to do. Now it is time for them to follow the practice of most private sector workers and draw their earned benefits from Medicare instead.”
Why do I care whether or not Mr. Paxton, or the NNA…or any other organization, desires postal reform that would directly or indirectly support their business or cause? Because legislation, as currently written, would strip federal benefits from current postal retirees (such as myself) – it would FORCE postal retirees into Medicare coverage whether or not they desire the coverage. When hired, and when retired, current postal retirees were assured that their health coverage would continue under F.E.H.B. – a Federal Employees Health Benefit. Why? BECAUSE WE WERE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES. We were promised that benefit as a part of our employment with USPS – to strip this benefit away at this time in our retirement is…well, just plain wrong. Enrollment and coverage in a F.E.H.B. plan is not a option for private sector employees. Comparing postal retirees health coverage to private sector employees or retirees is a moot point.
Many of us postal retirees DID NOT choose not to enroll in Medicare to avoid the cost associated with Medicare…we chose, or choose, not to enroll simply because we have a spouse, or family, that we MUST cover with our F.E.H.B. health insurance. If forced into Medicare coverage we would be forced to continue our F.E.H.B. health insurance to maintain family health coverage AND pay for the Medicare coverage as well. IT JUST MAKES NO SENSE…unless it does not affect you personally (that would be Mr. Paxton, the NNA, and others who are not postal retirees).
Yes, while employed at USPS we paid Medicare tax – aren’t you glad we did? Those payments helped Medicare stay afloat. Now, as postal retirees, we have chosen NOT to avail ourselves of Medicare coverage…again helping Medicare since we are not contributing to the drain on Medicare funds.
It IS NOT the responsibility of postal retirees to help USPS stay afloat – they promised us these benefits and they MUST/SHOULD stand by their promise.