A Gift that Keeps on Giving

November 1, 2015

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

We have a tradition in this country of celebrating birthdays by sending cards and giving gifts.

Rep. Allan Grayson (D-FL) celebrated Medicare’s 50th birthday by introducing the “Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act” (H.R. 3308), which would expand Medicare coverage.

Those who are not yet Medicare-eligible may wonder why these benefits need to be expanded.

Hearing Aids and Exams are excluded from coverage by Medicare Part A and B. A person covered by Medicare might pay 100 percent of the cost of a hearing exam and hearing aid. Hearing aids currently cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Routine Eye Exams and Glasses are not covered. Medicare only covers basic eye glasses needed after cataract surgery; even then it does so only once. The bill will allow Medicare to cover these services and devices.

Dental Care and Treatment is generally not covered, with few exceptions. Whether or not a person has dental insurance is an important factor in a senior’s decision to seek dental care. Failure to receive treatment early often drives up the costs of care received at a later date. The bill expands Medicare to cover needed dental care and treatments such as fillings, removals and the replacement of structures supporting teeth.

If this bill becomes law, it would be a true birthday gift! Retirees would face fewer cost barriers to taking care of these necessary medical services and devices.

Please contact your congressional representative and encourage him or her to support this bill.

No COLA in 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, was expected to announce the official cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for 2016 in October. When this magazine went to press, expectations were that there would be no COLA increase for federal/postal retirees and Social Security recipients. This prediction is based on a drop in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) over the last year.

This will be only the third time in the last 40 years no COLA will be paid. This will have a serious impact on the finances of many retirees and may result in an increase in Medicare Part B premiums. Check the APWU Retirees Department webpage, http://www.apwu.org/departments-divisions/retirees, for updates on the 2016 COLA.

Affected by OPM Breaches?

OPM announced on June 4 that the personal data of 4.2 million current and former federal employees was compromised by a cyber-attack the agency discovered in April. This included information such as full name, birth date, home address, and Social Security number.

While OPM was investigating the first breach, the agency discovered a second breach that compromised the records of background investigations of current, former, and prospective federal employees and contractors.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held hearings to find out what went wrong, the extent of the information compromised, and how to prevent future breaches.

OPM selected CSID to provide those whose records were breached free credit monitoring. To find out if you were affected by the first breach and are entitled to free credit monitoring, call CSID at 844-777-2743.

OPM recently selected a contractor to provide three years of free credit monitoring for those affected by the breach of background investigation records. Contact OPM at 877-767-6738 or www.opm.gov to obtain information on how to protect information compromised by the second breach.

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