USPS ‘Shirks Responsibility’ to PSEs

(This article first appeared in the Sept-Oct 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

By Health Plan Director John Marcotte 

The APWU Health Plan receives complaints from members who were converted from Postal Support Employee (PSE) to career status and claim the USPS cancelled their health insurance without notification. My office deals with this situation as best as we can, but this is an issue that is the employer’s full responsibility.

The situation is unique for PSEs who have the USPS PSE health insurance, which is not part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB) system. Upon conversion to career status, these employees are eligible for 60 days to sign up for FEHB health insurance plans. At the same time, the USPS determines that these employees are ineligible for their USPS PSE insurance and cancels their insurance.

My office is getting complaints from across the country that the USPS is not informing these new career conversions of their ability to sign up for FEHB health plans – and more importantly – that they are losing their USPS PSE coverage. Members are first becoming aware that they have no coverage while receiving medical care, being told they are uninsured!

This problem not only causes a gap in coverage between the date when the USPS plan was dropped and the start of their new FEHB insurance, but also means that if these unsuspecting members exceed the 60 days to sign up for career health insurance, they cannot sign up until the next open season or a “qualifying life event” – making their families uninsured that whole time.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) requires that the USPS give 61-day notice when cancelling health insurance. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires 30-day notice when health insurance is being cancelled. The USPS shirking its responsibility to notify APWU members that their health care is getting cancelled is inexcusable.

Consider the APWU CDO

I want you all to be aware of this gross injustice so we can educate our brothers and sisters who are being converted. This situation will not happen to any PSE who has the APWU Consumer Driven Option (CDO) because it is a FEHB health plan. The only change these new careers will notice is a drop in premiums when they attain career status – with NO gap in coverage.

While the APWU CDO provides superior health care coverage at a lower cost to our PSE families, this situation is yet another reason to ensure all PSEs who have been reappointed after a year learn about the advantages of signing up for the APWU CDO. PSEsare eligible for the APWU CDO upon reappointment after a 360-day appointment, with a break in service of no longer than five days. After they are eligible and if the 60-day window elapses for PSEs to sign up for the APWU CDO, they can still sign up after any qualifying life event or during the next open season after reappointment.

USPS watchdog report has senators wanting answers, possible firings

(This excerpt is from an article first reported on Federal News Radio September 20, 2017. Written by: Jory Heckman)

The U.S. Postal Service has caught the ire of three senators looking for answers — and possibly for heads to roll — after a watchdog report found the agency significantly underreported late mail delivery.

In a letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) urged the Postal Service to “take immediate action” after the Office of Inspector General reported in August that USPS had underreported about 2 billion pieces of mail nationwide over the course of a year.

News of the delayed mail delivery should come as no surprise to the senators, who have previously complained about the timeliness of delivery in rural parts of their respective states. Constituents from Missouri have submitted “numerous photographic examples of mail sitting in bins waiting to be delivered,” despite records showing it had been sent, while Heitkamp’s office has collected hundreds of mail service complaints through its Fix My Mail initiative.

“The mail continues to be a vital lifeline in rural American and the dependence on this service as a way to deliver goods as well as connect individuals, communities and businesses demands that it be a reliable and accurate mode of delivery,” the senators wrote. (Click HERE for the rest of the story.)