Via Thomas Benson, President – APWU Lake Geauga Area Local #1204
February 24, 2017
I believe that if this bill passes as it is worded currently, it has the potential to have some very adverse effects on retirees of the US Postal Service. When we look at the changes it proposes, such as forcing all retirees aged 65 and older into Medicare, we must look at the political climate as well as the agenda of the 115th Congress. As I have said in a previous article, there is a lot of gray area in HR 756. I do not feel comfortable agreeing to and/or making changes to the retirees Medicare options when there are so many threats against Medicare currently.
Simply put, if the company you work for claimed it could be out of business in 6 months, would you go out and purchase a home or a new car? Its highly unlikely you would make any life changing decisions or commit to any thing until you knew and understood what the company’s plans are for the future.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has made it well aware his intent to fundamentally change how Medicare works. In an article on AARP.com it states:
“Ryan would convert Medicare from a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” program. Instead of a guaranteed level of coverage, a dollar amount would be set for Medicare beneficiaries to pay premiums on insurance they would buy from private-sector companies (this is why Ryan calls it “premium support”). Ryan’s plan would also increase the eligibility age from 65 to 67.
A former chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan wants to limit how much the government spends on Medicare. In 2015, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of the federal budget, a proportion expected to grow as the number of beneficiaries rises.”
President Trump as well as the Republican Congressional Representatives have made it well known that they intend to repeal the Affordable Care Act. AARP.com further states:
“Although it has received little attention, a full repeal of Obamacare would eliminate Medicare benefits created by the law. Among other things, it improved Medicare’s financial outlook by slowing the growth of spending and clamped down on fraud, waste and excessive payments. It also enabled tens of millions of Medicare beneficiaries to get free preventive services such as flu shots and screenings for cancer and diabetes. And between 2010 and 2015, nearly 11 million Medicare beneficiaries saved $20.8 billion on prescription drugs—an average of $1,945 per person — because of the gradual closing of the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole.
While Obamacare remains controversial — in part because of its mandate to purchase health insurance and because premiums have increased for some plans—the Medicare provisions have proved popular with beneficiaries.”
There is a lot of uncertainty on what the outcome will be on Medicare as Congress formulates its plans. Its the uncertainty that worries me. I’m a firm believer we must look ahead and weigh all the “what ifs” and examine the “gray” areas before committing and supporting any bills that will change retirees futures.
And as a proud Union member as well as Local President, I feel it’s not right to change the choices and benefits that have been promised to us after years and years of employment. I know that others out there feel the same as I do. This was promised to us as a condition of our employment. We should have the same benefits and rights of every federal sector employee. To put this burden on only postal retirees is not in good conscience and opens Pandora’s box that will allow other rights and benefits to be taken away in the future.