Federal Manager's Daily Report

Chances of movement on the long-running issue of reforming the Postal Service apparently have improved, with leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee indicating they will offer their own plan soon.

They provided few details, however, apart from indicating that their effort will be less ambitious than a bill pending in the Senate counterpart committee.

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At a hearing, there was general agreement that USPS needs relief from its obligation to pre-fund future retiree health insurance costs, more freedom to pursue new income sources and restoration of a rate increase that recently expired, causing rates to revert to a former lower level.

For employees, prior proposals that had threatened job levels—such as cutting mail delivery to five days and closing more processing plants—seem to be off the board. That leaves the main question whether postal employees and retirees will be carved out into their own health insurance plan, and what that would mean both to them and other current FEHB enrollees once that population left the program.

One area of apparent agreement is requiring postal retirees to enroll in Medicare on hitting age 65. About three-fourths of postal retirees already do so voluntarily even though they also have FEHB. Making that a requirement would shift more of the premium cost from USPS onto Medicare, since Medicare takes over as the primary payer in that situation.