Date: February 11, 2022
House Passes H.R. 3076, the
“Postal Service Reform Act of 2021”
On February 8, 2022, the House passed H.R. 3076, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021, by a vote of 342-92. This bill would establish a new health benefits program for United States Postal Service (USPS) employees, annuitants, and the family members of employees and annuitants, as well as make other changes related to USPS’s financing and operations.
In order to participate in the new USPS health benefits program, annuitants and family members who are entitled to premium-free Medicare Part A would generally need to be enrolled in Part B as well. Certain annuitants and family members would be exempt from this requirement (for example, annuitants or family members covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system).
H.R. 3076 contains the following provisions of interest to the Social Security Administration (SSA):
SEC. 101 Postal Service Health Benefits Program
- Certain annuitants and family members who are, as of January 1, 2024, entitled to premium-free Part A but not enrolled in Part B would be given the opportunity to enroll in Part B via a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). This one-time SEP would run from April 2024 through September 2024. People who enroll via this SEP could be subject to Part B late enrollment premium penalties (also called “premium surcharges”); however, those penalties would be paid by the USPS directly to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
- SSA would be required to share Medicare enrollment information to:
- o help the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and USPS identify the annuitants and family members who may be eligible for the new, one-time SEP; and
- o on an ongoing basis, help OPM ensure that the annuitants and family members who are required to be enrolled in Part B (in order to participate in the new USPS health benefits program) are enrolled in Part B;
- SSA would be required assist the USPS in developing a process for handling Medicare inquiries and in creating an outreach/education program that provides information on Medicare to USPS employees and annuitants;
- Requires OMB to publish on a website, and maintain, a list for each FY of each agency that submits budget justification materials.
- SSA would be appropriated $16,000,000 in FY 2022 for implementing the one-time SEP1 ; and
- OPM would be required, on an ongoing basis, to reimburse SSA for our full costs in providing the Medicare information needed to help facilitate the Part B enrollment process.
1 We understand that the bill, as passed, was amended to make the $16 million available until spent, without time limit. However, Congress.gov continues to show as the enrolled version the one prior to this amendment, in which these funds would expire if not spent within one year of the close of the SEP. We will update this bulletin as needed.