NARFE Warns of Perils to Mandatory Medicare Measures as Part of Postal Reform

Alexandria, Va. (April 30, 2019) – As the debate on reforms to the United States Postal Service (USPS) continues, NARFE shared concerns over past and current proposals targeting the health benefits of postal service retirees. In a letter to the leadership and members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform regarding today’s hearing on the financial path forward for the USPS, NARFE also provided perspective on additional issues including six-day delivery, privatization and the restoration of service standards.

NARFE National President Ken Thomas issued the following statement:

“NARFE recognizes the need to reform the USPS due to its decades-long financial liabilities. However, requiring postal retirees to enroll in Medicare Part B or forfeit their coverage through the FEHB is not the right approach. Unfair and high-handed, this proposal removes choice for postal service retirees with regard to their health insurance coverage after they retire, imposes additional significant costs to them and taxpayers and sets a dangerous precedent for all federal employees. We urge Congress to oppose mandatory Medicare measures as part of postal reform policies and resist efforts to balance the budget of the USPS on the backs of postal service retirees.”

Background:

For postal service retirees not currently enrolled in Medicare Part B – about 76,000 individuals – this move would require an additional $135.50 per month (or more) in Medicare premiums per enrollee, on top of their FEHB premiums. While FEHB premiums vary by plan, the enrollee share of monthly premiums for the popular Blue Cross Blue Shield Standard Plan in 2019 is $243.17 for self-coverage, $555.83 for self-plus-one coverage, and $581.13 for self-and-family coverage. For a postal retiree and spouse already paying $6,670 per year for their federal health benefits, the mandatory Medicare requirement would add another $3,240 in premiums per year, bringing their annual health insurance premium costs to nearly $10,000.

Interestingly, the President’s Task Force declined to endorse mandatory Medicare enrollment in its report. Gary Grippo, deputy assistant secretary for public finance, US Department of the Treasury, expressed opposition to the proposals, arguing that requiring all postal retirees to enroll in Medicare would shift postal liabilities to taxpayers.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the mandatory Medicare provisions would cost taxpayers $10.7 billion over 10 years.

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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 interests of 5 million current and future federal annuitants, spouses and survivors.

Source: National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association

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