USPS Responds to opinion piece in The Hill

August 14, 2017 – Ross Marchand’s opinion piece in The Hill engages in misleading criticism of certain aspects of the Postal Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 756. In fact, the bill’s requirement that postal annuitants enroll in Medicare is a necessary and sensible reform that will help to ensure that the Postal Service can continue meeting the mailing and shipping needs of the American people in a self-sufficient, business-like manner into the future.

It’s important to understand that the Postal Service did not choose its current pension and health care systems — they are the result of statutes enacted by Congress. While the Postal Service’s post-retirement benefits are well funded compared to the rest of the Government and many private sector businesses, declining mail volumes mean that the current pension and health care systems and unique pre-funding requirements imposed by Congress are unaffordable. That is the reason postal reform legislation is both necessary and urgently needed.

Requiring all postal retirees to enroll in Medicare, H.R. 756 would ensure the Postal Service’s retiree health benefits program aligns with private sector best practices. In this regard, it is a universal practice for businesses that still provide retiree health benefits to fully integrate with Medicare. Indeed, the Postal Service and its employees have paid more than $31 billion in Medicare taxes. While most postal annuitants enroll in Medicare, some annuitants do not, to the detriment of the Postal Service and those who do enroll. H.R. 756 simply requires that all postal annuitants take advantage of the Medicare benefits for which they, and the Postal Service, have paid.

While it is true Medicare spending under H.R. 756 would increase, that fact has to be considered in the context of Medicare as a whole. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates enactment of H.R. 756 would increase Medicare spending, averaging approximately $1 billion per year over the next ten years, which is less than half a day’s claims, and less than 1 percent of the total annual claims, while annual Medicare spending was $679 billion in 2016. In addition, when the entirety of H.R. 756’s various provisions are taken into account, CBO scores the bill as having an overall positive impact on the unified Federal budget by $6 billion.

The bill also protects the interests of postal workers and non-postal enrollees in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). CBO notes current postal employees and postal annuitants would have lower FEHBP premiums under H.R. 756. While current postal annuitants who are not enrolled in Medicare would become subject to the Part B premium, they would not be required to pay any penalty for failing to enroll in Part B when first eligible. (Mr. Marchand incorrectly states postal annuitants would be exempt from Part A premiums under the bill after this transition period). Additionally, CBO has determined H.R. 756 would lead to lower premiums for non-postal enrollees in FEHBP.

Studies consistently show the Postal Service is one of the most efficient posts in the world. Moreover, the Postal Service is self-funded and postal operations are paid for with proceeds from the sale of postal products and services — not tax revenue. In seeking to integrate its retiree health benefits program with Medicare, the Postal Service is not shirking its responsibilities, but simply asking to be permitted to adopt best practices that would ensure its retiree health benefits program is affordable and would protect against any risk that those benefits cannot be funded going forward.

The Postal Service’s financial situation, which is the result of declining mail volume and costs largely outside of the Postal Service’s control, is serious but solvable. Continued innovation and aggressive management actions — together with the passage of the provisions of H.R. 756 into law and a favorable outcome in the Postal Regulatory Commission’s 10-year review of the Postal Service’s pricing system — will restore the organization to financial stability and permit us to continue to provide excellent service to the American public.

From PEN Editor: 

To USPS – we, postal retirees, should NOT be forced to enroll in Medicare under ANY circumstances. As dedicated postal employees we were PROMISED…if not guaranteed, that our coverage under FEHB would continue into our retirement. Many of us choose not to enroll in Medicare for a good reason…the cost of Medicare is about $134.00 per month. If we enroll and have a spouse, that is not employed or retired early, then we are forced to continue our FEHB coverage, $500+ per month, to insure coverage for our spouse…AND, we would be forced to pay the extra $134.00 per month for our Medicare. How in the hell is this a good thing? For USPS it may be a bailout of sorts, but for retirees in my situation it is a HUGE added cost burden.

If a retiree desires to sign on to Medicare then that is fine. But, if a retiree chooses NOT to enroll then his/her decision should be honored. If this bill were corrected to include ONLY future USPS retirees then that would be fine because these new employees would understand and know what to expect. But, to blindside those who are already retired IS JUST PLAIN WRONG…and YOU (USPS) KNOW IT.

It is my hope that this legislation, H.R. 756, NEVER passes without protecting current postal retirees right NOT to enroll in Medicare if they so desire.

Rick Owens
Postal Employee Network

5 Responses to "USPS Responds to opinion piece in The Hill"

  1. Buck Russell   August 15, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    The Postal Service may be one of the most efficient posts in the world But it is one of the worst mismanaged!!! Please hurry and give up on resuscitating letter mail and take advantage of the HUGE Parcel business before it crushes all of us working employees!!

  2. Postal Joe   August 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Rick Owens….Great post and you are 100% correct!!!

  3. ididnotvoteforthatguy   August 16, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Current postal retirees should continue having a choice. With less than 20% of current retirees choosing NOT to enroll in Part B, the fiscal impact would be minimal. Those who decide to opt-in later would be subject to penalties. I don’t see why postal management would not want to support amending HR 756 and make this adjustment. On the other hand – as a future retiree – I have no problem being automatically integrated into Medicare. For one, I have time to plan for any increase in out-of-pocket costs (even though my FEHBP premium is expected to decrease). And secondly, I will sleep better at night knowing that virtually all of my potential medical expenses would be fully covered … just in case.

  4. Postal Joe   August 18, 2017 at 11:01 am

    The current federal “Postal” health insurance for retirees who opt to have Medicare already does exactly what you describe in your post about medical expenses being fully covered!!! In addition our current health plan has a “defined prescription drug plan” that pays for medications that you may need as you get older!!! The new (so called ) improved plan that the unions are promoting has no drug plan included but relies on something called “EGWP” which is some program tied to (part D) that will soon go bankrupt, then what will you do??? Just my opinion, but the current plan works just fine!!

    Great post Postal Joe – Some people do not realize that when you turn 65, and you do not have Medicare coverage, your B/C B/S starts paying for health services and prescriptions at the same rate Medicare pays – in other words, your out of pocket remains the same but the ‘allowed’ charges being filed are reduced by B/C B/S to same level paid by Medicare…at least my states B/C B/S does – I would assume that all states are this way. Rick at PEN

  5. Rich   August 18, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Why isn’t anyone mentioning the cost of the extra insurance you have to purchase to cover all the things part B doesn’t cover .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.