The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756) took another small step forward in the legislative process today.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved the bill as amended. The legislation attempts to address unfunded liabilities of the United States Postal Service (USPS), makes reforms to keep mailing costs affordable for consumers, and encourages innovation. The bill’s sponsors also say it does so without any extra cost to taxpayers. For a more detailed look at the features of the legislation, see Legislation Introduced to Reform Postal Employees’ Benefits.
The bill’s co-sponsors released the following statement after approving the bill:
The Postal Service is in dire need of real reforms, and this bill puts it on the course toward financial stability. These desperately needed policy changes prevent a taxpayer bailout of the Postal Service and will save billions of dollars over the next decade. We are pleased to see this bill pass through committee and urge the House to follow suit as soon as possible.
Not all groups are excited to see the legislation advancing, however. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) released the following statement about the legislation:
There are many solutions to the financial problems facing the U.S. Postal Service, all of which the Committee unfortunately has rejected in favor of balancing the books of the USPS on the backs of its retirees. In doing so, this legislation forces 76,000 current postal retirees who are satisfied with their current health insurance coverage to pay an additional $1,600 per year, or more, to receive coverage through Medicare.
While the majority of federal and postal retirees choose Medicare when they turn age 65, those without it actively made the decision not to enroll. The reasons for doing are numerous and personal, and it was their choice. That choice should not be eliminated now because Congress is unwilling to make more politically difficult decisions.
There has been some speculation that automatically enrolling retired Postal employees in Medicare could open the door to doing the same for other federal employees. (See Reforming Retiree Health Insurance May Start with Mandatory Medicare, But May Not End There)
However, the bill still has a long way to go before becoming law.