President Biden has signed into law bill containing a wide-ranging set of changes to the Postal Service that passed the House and Senate on a strong bipartisan group after years of such proposals falling short.
The measure repeals a requirement for the Postal Service to pre-fund retiree health benefits; increases transparency of delivery performance; requires more extensive reporting on operations and finances; and requires continued mail delivery six days per week, among other changes.
For postal employees and retirees, a significant change will be the launch in 2025 of a new Postal Service Health Benefits Program, a carve-out of the FEHB program with the same plans available as under the FEHB—so long as a plan had at least 1,500 postal enrollees—and with the same benefits and out-of-pocket cost policies, but with the postal population forming its own pool for determining premiums.
The program is to include required Medicare Part B (medical services) and Part D (prescription drug) coverage for future postal retirees when they become eligible, typically at age 65. Current postal retirees would retain the option of not enrolling in Medicare, as would current employees who are age 64 or older by the end of 2024. Retirees who previously were not enrolled in Medicare would not be subject to the late enrollment penalties that otherwise apply in that program.
“This historic law will finally get the Postal Service on sustainable financial footing after decades of decline,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee, while Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the ranking Republican on the committee, called it “the biggest bipartisan accomplishment this Congress and will strengthen USPS for the years to come.”
In a coincidence of timing, the USPS meanwhile has asked the Postal Regulatory Commission to raise the price of a standard first-class stamp from 58 to 60 cents, along with increases in other first-class mailing rates averaging about 6 percent.