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Further rules proposed for the Postal Service Health Benefits program

OPM has proposed a further set of rules for the upcoming Postal Service Health Benefits Program that would address issues such as the program’s coordination with Medicare in more detail.

The proposal in the May 24 Federal Register follows the April finalization of general rules for the PSHB, which will take over the FEHB’s duties for USPS employees and retirees beginning in January. The PSHB should generally mirror the FEHB, albeit with fewer carriers and with a general requirement that those who have not retired from the USPS by the end of this year must enroll in Medicare Part B when eligible (usually when they turn 65).

“This proposed rule expands previous regulations regarding the PSHB program and is intended to provide more detail and clarity necessary to properly implement PSHB in 2025 and beyond,” the notice said.

One area of ​​immediate interest to enrollees is a detailed explanation of how the program will handle appeals of enrollment denials, which in the PSHB program will be further complicated by the Medicare enrollment requirement for those retiring in 2025 and beyond. Various special circumstances and exceptions related to that requirement are also discussed.

The proposed rules also address technical issues, including financial matters and the integration of Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage with the PSHB.

OPM recently finalized the rules for the PSHB, saying it cannot grant exceptions as requested by some of those who commented on the rules after they were first proposed last spring.

Many of the comments and questions OPM received focused on the forced transition of postal workers and retirees to the new program and the Medicare enrollment requirement. “A theme of the concerns is that many Postal annuitants plan their retirement based on the benefits packages available at the time they are hired, and that the PSHB program involuntarily changes these plans,” the release said.

OPM responded that the creation of the new program and the Medicare requirement were required by law and that it also has no discretionary authority to change it.

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