Bipartisan Postal Reform Legislation Introduced in the Senate
Last week, Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ranking Member Rob Portman (R-OH), of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led a bipartisan coalition of 20 original co-sponsors in introducing the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021 in the Senate (S. 1720).
This is a companion bill to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3076) on May 11 by Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. On May 13, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “marked-up” and approved the Postal Service Reform Act.
“The introduction of this companion legislation in the Senate places us on a strong path to pass much needed postal reform,” said President Dimondstein. “I applaud Senators Peters and Portman for working together on a bipartisan solution. The U.S. mail belongs to every person in this country and is not a partisan issue. The APWU looks forward to working with Congress to see this signed into law.”
“This legislation presents an opportunity for Congress to provide needed financial and operational changes to the United States Postal Service,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard. “The bill will place USPS on the path toward financial stability by adding transparency to the Postal Service, enacting prospective Medicare integration, ensuring six-day delivery, and repealing the unfair pre-funding mandate.”
The APWU believes this bill provides a workable route to achieve a robust future for America’s Postal Service. Call your Congressional Representatives by dialing 844-402-1001 and ask them to support postal reform.”
Components of the new postal reform legislation include:
REPEAL OF THE PRE-FUNDING MANDATE
H.R. 3076 and S. 1720 include a longtime priority of APWU: the USPS Fairness Act. The inclusion of USPS Fairness Act means that, if passed, this postal reform legislation would repeal the onerous pre-funding mandate from the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which requires USPS to fully pre-fund the health benefits for postal workers 75 years in advance. This requirement — which no other public or private entity is burdened with — is responsible for 84 percent of the Postal Service’s net losses since 2007.
This legislation increases participation in Medicare by providing prospective Medicare integration. Current retirees will be given the option to remain in their Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) or join the newly created postal-only FEHBP and fully integrate into Medicare Parts A and B when eligible. Current retirees, age 65 or above, who exercise this option, and are subject to a late enrollment penalty, will be provided a one-time waiver of the late enrollment penalty. Active postal employees, as of January 1, 2023, will be automatically enrolled in the postal-only FEHBP and have their healthcare fully integrated, when eligible, with Medicare Parts A and B.
Members who receive healthcare through the VA, live abroad, or live in an area that does not offer Medicare will not be required to enroll in Medicare Part B.
Approximately 80 percent of Medicare-eligible retirees voluntarily enroll into Medicare A and B. APWU members have found that having a FEHBP plan and Medicare improves their access to healthcare and saves them money.
Postal employees and the Postal Service have long subsidized Medicare, paying over $34 billion in Medicare taxes since 1983. Postal employees, retirees, and the Postal Service can realize the benefit of those contributions through Medicare integration.
The bill would require USPS to set up a public “dashboard” on their website which will publish weekly performance data. This data will allow postal observers to monitor any service failures, identify mail slowdowns, and pinpoint zip codes experiencing consistent diminished service performance. This added oversight will provide postal allies with new tools to fight back against consolidations and closures. These tools will also allow us to determine specific areas across the country in need of additional postal investment.
In order to remain competitive and provide the kind of service people across this country deserve, this bill includes language that would protect six-day delivery. This provision is crucial. For those who want to privatize the Postal Service, any effort to degrade service often starts with paring back on the number of delivery days. Privatizers know that by degrading service, they can drive business away, undermine our public Postal Service, and justify privatization.
Reduced delivery days can lead to fewer people turning to USPS when they need to send packages, job losses, and harm communities that depend on mail delivery. That’s why APWU has fought to secure the six-day delivery provision in this bill.