By Evan Dean – March 2, 2021
Last week, House Oversight and Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, presented draft postal reform legislation incorporating provisions NARFE has long advocated, including Medicare integration that preserves current postal retirees’ choice regarding whether to enroll in Medicare Part B. In advance of a hearing reviewing the legislation and other postal reform solutions, NARFE National President Ken Thomas submitted a statement for the record outlining the association’s views on postal reform.
In a press statement, Thomas applauded the draft bill’s Medicare integration provisions. Specifically, current retirees age 65 and older would have the option to enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty; retirees ages 55 to 64 would be automatically enrolled at age 65 with a three-month window to opt-out. The integration would save the Postal Service tens of billions over the next decade.
Beyond Medicare integration, the bill would end the requirement that the agency fully prefund the future health insurance benefits of its retirees. This mandate has cost tens of billions of dollars and is the driving force behind the Postal Service’s recent financial losses. The draft bill would also maintain USPS service standards by requiring the agency to meet annual performance targets and consult the Postal Regulatory Commission before slowing mail delivery times.
During the hearing, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy expressed support for the draft bill and noted his 10-year strategic plan would work in tandem with the legislation. In response to a question from Rep. Jamie Raskin. D-MD, DeJoy indicated that the coming strategic plan would make changes to first class mail and would cut mail air transport but did not provide further detail. The plan will be sent to Congress in March.
Several Republicans on the committee raised concerns with the draft bill, including Ranking Member James Comer, R-KY, who said the bill did not address some of the “hard decisions” necessary to achieve reform. Rep. Jody Hice, R-GA, ranking member of the Government Operations subcommittee, stated that he supports “basic concepts” in the draft bill, like repeal of the prefunding mandate, but says more needs to be done.