Fedweek

Another issue that Congress may take up soon is postal reform, a plan that has cleared the committee level on both the House and Senate sides. The Senate most likely would move first, with a bipartisan plan that among other things would create a separate postal health insurance plan within the FEHB—with unknown impact on the rest of the FEHB population’s premiums—and make certain FECA injury compensation benefits less generous government-wide, especially for those who pass age 66 in the future. The full Senate approved a largely similar bill last year; however issues that prevented a bill from clearing the House such as disputes over five-day mail delivery and closing of facilities, remain. Also, there are differences between the two chambers over treatment of a requirement to pre-fund future retiree health costs that has been largely responsible for the operating losses USPS has posted recently—although USPS has not made the last three payments of around $5 billion each, it continues to carry them as obligations on its books. USPS meanwhile announced recently that it will continue to downsize, on the order of 10,000 jobs this year, although unlike in past years it does not plan to offer early retirement and buyout incentives. It rather will rely solely on attrition, since it has a relatively older workforce on average with about a third currently eligible to retire under normal rules.