The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is set to move a postal reform bill (HR-576), one of the topics of rare bipartisan agreement in that panel and potentially a breakthrough in the long-stalled reform effort.

The committee had passed similar legislation last year but too late to shepherd it all the way through to enactment.

The measure addresses business-type issues unique to that agency because of its self-funding nature, including stretching out an obligation to pre-fund retiree health care and allowing it more freedom to raise rates and to branch out into new services. The measure also sets certain standards to consider before closing a post office and does not call for reducing mail delivery from six days to five, although it aims to increase the use of central delivery points for a neighborhood such as cluster boxes.

In addition, the bill would create a separate health insurance program inside the FEHB for postal employees and retirees, with parallel plans but a separate insurance pool; that would have an uncertain impact on premiums for them as well as for the rest of the FEHB population. Further, retirees generally would be required to enroll in Medicare Part B when eligible; there would be assistance with paying those premiums although only for the first three years.