Benefit reform may help solve USPS’ woes

The call for Congress to help the US Postal Service address its bal­looning deficit by allowing it to pay its share of retiree health benefits out of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund instead of its own pocket is growing.

To do so, Congress would need to amend the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which requires the pre-funding of the premium in annual payments ranging from $5.4 billion to $5.8 billion through 2016.

Support for reform came from Postmaster General John Potter, who called it a “crippling burden,” as well as the American Postal Worker’s Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Last week, a consortium of 40 mailing industry groups sent a letter to the Obama administration back­ing the call for financial relief.

The organizations “strongly support inclusion in the economic stimulus package of provisions per­mitting USPS” to pay the premiums out of the fund, the letter reads.

A related group sent a similar let­ter to key Congressional members last month.

The USPS, dealt a first quarter loss of $384 million, projects a year-end loss significantly higher than last year’s $2.8 billion if current economic trends continue.

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