A bill to revise many aspects of Postal Service operations — and some aspects of its benefits to employees and retirees — has advanced through the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
The measure (HR-3067) is the latest in a long line of similar efforts, some of which made some progress before ultimately stalling, although unlike previous iterations it has bipartisan support that improves its chances for enactment.
Like prior bills, the measure would relieve the USPS of the obligation to pre-fund the employer share of future health insurance costs for its retirees. The USPS has been unable to make the required payments for years but the amounts continue to show as a liability on its financial books.
The bill further would loosen restrictions against expanding into new service offerings while requiring weekly public reporting of service delivery results, fuller reporting of financial results, and numerous operating changes.
Regarding benefits, the measure most notably would create a carve-out plan for postal employees and retirees within the FEHB program beginning in 2023 to be called the Postal Service Health Benefits Program. It would have its own “risk pool” that would have an undetermined effect on premiums and there would be a general requirement that all FEHB plans with at least 1,500 active or retired postal enrollees would have to offer coverage in that program, as well.
Also, postal employees retiring in the future would be required to enroll in Medicare Part B under certain circumstances. Currently that is an option which many decline, arguing that that coverage is largely duplicative of FEHB but coming at the cost of an additional premium.