PMG Says USPS Health Plan Key to Solvency

Below is Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe’s recent oral testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today. The Postmaster General’s written testimony is available at:http://about.usps.com/news/testimony-speeches/welcome.htm

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Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Dr. Coburn, and members of the Committee.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing.

There is a fundamental question to be answered about the future of the Postal Service….and it is this:

Will the Postal Service be given the authority and flexibility that enables it to continue as a self-funding entity? I believe everyone wants the answer to be yes.

  • The Postal Service can be profitable and pay down its debt.
  • It can continue to provide secure, affordable, and reliable universal service.
  • It can continue to meet the needs of rural America. 
  • It can continue to drive economic growth.
  • It can continue to be a responsible employer and a great place to work.
  • And, if given the flexibility and authority to adapt to a changing world, it can meet all of these goals without becoming a burden to the American taxpayer.

The choice is simple: greater flexibility and authority now, or massive taxpayer exposure and service degradation later.

The Postal Reform Bill of 2013, S. 1486 goes a long way toward putting us on the path to financial stability.  It provides flexibility and authority in many critical areas.  

Most importantly, it acknowledges our primary challenges — the related issues of health care benefits and the need to pre-fund liabilities.  As currently written, the bill would provide significant savings.  But, as both you, Mr. Chairman, and you, Dr. Coburn, have said: it remains a work in progress.  Working together with all stakeholders, and by including stronger language regarding Medicare integration and health care costs, Senate Bill 1486 can accomplish the goals we all share.

As the committee knows, we are seeking the added authority under the law to control our health care costs.  We want to negotiate better and more cost efficient health care coverage for our employees and retirees, and ensure better integration with Medicare.  If we do so, we can virtually eliminate our unfunded liability for retiree health care benefits.  We can also reduce the amount we will need to set aside for our retirees in the future to an amount we can manage. 

This in turn will secure lifetime coverage for all of our retirees; it will maintain choices for all employees and retirees; and it will immediately reduce our health care cost burden from 20 cents out of every revenue dollar to just 8 cents.  This is a savings of approximately $8 billion a year through 2016, compared to our current expenses.

Today, the Postal Service and its employees are paying for benefits we don’t even use.  We are effectively buying insurance we don’t need, and we’re overpaying for it.

Both the Postal Service and our retirees have paid $27 billion into Medicare; yet many don’t draw the benefits that they’re entitled to.  And so we are obligated to overpay to compensate for this fact.  

Under the current law, the Postal Service and our retirees pay full freight to insurance companies within the FEHB system.  Instead, our retirees should be using Medicare Parts A, B and D as their base coverage.  Under this vastly preferable scenario, the Postal Service and our retirees would merely need to fund far less costly benefits wrapped around full Medicare coverage.

This is more than just a budgeting issue: this is an issue of fairness.  It is fundamentally unfair to ask our employees, our retirees—and ultimately our ratepayers—to continue to needlessly overpay for healthcare insurance. 

In simple terms, we are merely asking to be able to manage our retiree healthcare, not by reducing benefits -- like many employers are currently doing -- but by wrapping supplementary plans around Medicare.  This will allow us to maintain current levels of coverage and generate annual savings for both the Postal Service and our employees and retirees.  We can do this simply by eliminating unwarranted overpayments.

Does the Postal Service have an obligation to its employees and retirees to provide health care insurance for decades to come?  Of course it does.

And the best way to meet that obligation is to create a program that is financially sustainable in the long-term.  Our proposal accomplishes that goal.  We developed our plan with leading experts in the field, which is essentially the approach that nearly every other company takes, and which the GAO supports.

If we are allowed to negotiate our own health care program—either within FEHB or in a separate program—the Postal Service will be able to provide the same or better coverage at a much lower cost for the vast majority of our employees and retirees. 

I cannot overstate how important it is for the Postal Service to have its own health care plan—or—to have the FEHB and OPM work with us to negotiate new integrated health care plan choices, specifically for the Postal Service, within FEHB.

We want to work with this Committee to establish an effective—and sustainable—health care program for our employees and retirees.  We want Senate Bill 1486 to include a clear mandate for the Postal Service, FEHB and OPM to make this happen.

Mr. Chairman, by taking this approach, the Postal Service can reduce its annual costs by up to $8 billion dollars annually through 2016.  This goes a long way toward our goal of closing a projected $20 billion dollar budget gap.

Yesterday the Postal Service announced a price increase above the rate of inflation.  We did not want to take this step, but we had little choice due to our current financial condition.  Resolving our healthcare issues will mitigate the pressure to raise prices and to take other unpalatable steps in the future – but – we must fully address our health care costs to do so.

I would like to thank the Committee for taking up postal reform legislation this year, and for holding this important hearing today. I look forward to answering your questions and supporting your work in any way that I can.  This concludes my remarks.

COPCC Wins the Gold!

National PCC Day 2011

PCC Leadership Award Winners

Each year during the National PCC Day live satellite broadcast, the U.S. Postal Service recognizes the outstanding achievements of PCCs around the country. The winners represent the “best of the best.”

The award recipients demonstrated the following success factors:

  • Creativity, originality and membership involvement
  • Positive impact on membership growth
  • Effective communications with membership using various channels
  • Positive impact on PCC operations
  • In depth education for business mailers to help them grow their business
  • Enhanced PCC membership value through educational networking opportunities


The Central Ohio PCC was a recipient of the prestigious National PCC Day Gold Certificate. 
 

Congratulations to all the volunteers on the COPCC who made it possible!

Industry Alert

 USPS Is Here To Stay!

Postmaster General Pat Donahoe issued a letter and video to assure mailers that the Postal Service is not going out of business or be privatized. The Postal Service plays a vital role in America’s economy and society. This past year USPS delivered 167.6 billion pieces of mail and sustains a $1 trillion mailing industry that employs 8 million people.

This communication will bring you the up-to-date steps the Postal Service is taking on the legislative, network optimization and wages and benefits fronts to ensure the financial health of USPS now and in years to come. The PMG continues to urge Congress to allow the move from six-day delivery schedule to five days per week. On the retail front, the USPS is studying whether to close up to 3,700 retail facilities, and we continue to consolidate delivery routes. USPS is also developing a proposal to adjust service standards and Critical Entry Times for First-Class and Periodicals to allow the streamlining of the mail processing network.

This is a very important message that needs to be shared with your members and co-workers. Please click to view the video and letter. Also, the video can be downloaded for your convenience.

Susan M. LaChance
Vice President
Consumer and Industry Affairs

 

Keeping You Informed

KEEPING YOU INFORMED
PCC LEADERS INVITED TO DISTRICT MEETINGS

Through a series of meetings now under way, the Postal Service is keeping Postal Customer Council leaders informed about USPS actions to reduce costs and bring the size of its infrastructure into alignment with reduced customer demand.

PCCs serve as an essential communications link in keeping mailers at the local level informed about how the Postal Service is responding to the challenges it faces.

At meetings with district postal officials, the leaders of individual PCCs are hearing specifics about the Postal Service's retail network plans and initiatives to sustain postal operations, and are encouraged to share this critical information with their membership.

“For the past 50 years Postal Customer Councils have helped mailers grow their businesses throughout America by promoting the value of the mail,” said Postmaster General Pat Donahoe in a letter to PCC leaders. “I very much appreciate your business and your longstanding support and leadership.”

USPS Offers Age Verified Delivery

Looking for greater control over who receives your shipments?

Adult Signature is now available from the Postal Service. This extra service provides a method for customers to obtain a signature at delivery from an adult recipient who is 21 years of age or older.
 
The option is available for commercial and online customers who use Express Mail, Priority Mail, Critical Mail, Parcel Select barcoded nonpresort and Parcel Select Regional Ground for their shipping.
 
There are two variations of Adult Signature:
  • Adult Signature Required. This requires the signature of a recipient 21 years of age or older upon delivery. The cost is $4.75 per piece.
  • Adult Signature Restricted Delivery. This requires the signature of the addressee (or agent with written authorization) only, who must be 21 years of age or older upon delivery. The cost is $4.95 per piece.