Status update: Your future health premiums, Social Security’s ‘evil twins’

Whether you are (or should be) for Postal Reform or against the Windfall and Offset laws, help is coming. John Hatton, staff VP for NARFE, will discuss the stat...

Politicians, lobbyists and special interest groups on Capitol Hill often disguise very important or controversial bills they’re pushing by giving them dull or misleading names. Or when a proposal is both complex and potentially explosive they may bill it as a “reform.” Who can oppose reform, right? Example:

The so-called Social Security Windfall and Offset laws have been on the books for years. Originally billed as way to keep a handful of feds from gaming the Social Security system, they have, in fact, cost tens of thousands of former feds, police and public employees and their spouses or survivors tens of millions of dollars in benefits. Windfall and Offset are now better known as The Evil Twins. But if they had been billed as that at the time they probably never would have become law. Different groups have been working for decades to repeal or modify one or both. This year they may — just may — be within striking ground.

Another massive and sometimes misleading proposal is the Postal Reform Act of 2022. Postal reform plans have been around almost since Ben Franklin. Some good, some not so good. This year the reform plan has a record number of cosponsors and recently passed the House. One of the things it would reform is health insurance premiums paid by all federal employees, retirees and spouses. As with much, if not most, laws and proposals, not many people know much if anything about the contents. The good news, whether you are (or should be) for Postal Reform or against the Windfall and Offset laws, help is coming. My guest today on our Your Turn radio show (10 a.m. EST) is John Hatton. He’s staff VP for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees. He’s going to talk about the impact of the postal reform plan on premiums, Medicare Part B as well as the financial health of the USPS.

Hatton will also talk about Windfall and Offset a.k.a the Evil Twins. He will bring us up to speed on where the bills are now, what they will reform and their impact on the benefits of millions of current federal, state and local government retirees and their spouses. The show will be streaming at or on 1500 AM in the D.C. area. If you can’t catch it today it will be archived on our home page.

To prep you on these important bills, and what they do and don’t do, John prepared this outline: If you have questions for John, email me before showtime.

  • While most feds may think postal reform doesn’t concern them, the crux of leading postal bills in Congress implicate the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. NARFE advocated persistently over the last year to ensure federal employees and retirees were not adversely impacted by the bill, and secured important amendments. Prior to this Congress, NARFE’s efforts ensured postal bills maintained postal retirees’ choice regarding whether to enroll in Medicare Part B. Last month, the House passed the Postal Reform Act of 2022 with NARFE’s support. In addition to addressing NARFE’s concerns, the bill repeals the burdensome mandate to prefund future USPS retiree health benefits, and codifies six-day delivery standards. Next up: Senate consideration.
  • NARFE is also pushing for the repeal or reform the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO), which unfairly reduce the Social Security benefits of retired public servants and their spouses. NARFE supports multiple bills addressing this inequity, including those that would create new formulas to calculate offsets and offer rebates to WEP- and GPO-affected beneficiaries. Where do each of these bills stand?
  • Additionally, NARFE is actively pushing lawmakers to work together and pass full-year fiscal year 2022 appropriation bills before the March 11 deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Simply passing another continuing resolution is “wasteful and inefficient.” Will Congress get its job done before the latest deadline?

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Robert O’Shaughnessy

In Switzerland, it is illegal to keep a single guinea pig as a pet as it is classified as a “social animal” under the law. And “social animals must be given adequate social contact with animals of the same species.”

Source: Library of Congress

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