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This issue of NewsWatch is provided by NARFE, a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the earned pay, retirement and health care benefits of federal employees, retirees and their survivors. Please join today!

NEWS FROM NARFE

Postal reform bill introduced in the Senate
NARFE
A new postal reform bill, the Improving Postal Operations Service and Transparency Act (iPost), S.2051, was reintroduced in the Senate on Sept. 17 by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Under iPost, postal retirees would be required to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to continue receiving their current health insurance coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. This would raise the total cost of health insurance premiums for these postal retirees because they would have to pay the full cost of Medicare Part B and FEHBP premiums.

In a statement, NARFE President Richard G. Thissen said, "Postal retirees earned their health benefits throughout long careers of service. They should not be required to pay for additional health insurance coverage as a condition of continuing to receive those benefits."

NARFE further objects to the reduction in workers' compensation all federal workers would face under this bill. If injured or disabled on the job, federal employees are entitled to basic compensation under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act. Carper's bill would reduce basic benefits by 25-33 percent at retirement age and eliminate the supplemental benefit for injured workers with dependents. This measure would affect only employees injured after the date of enactment of this legislation, which is a positive change from last year's bill.

An action letter is available in the NARFE Legislative Action Center for you to use to express your views on this bill to your senators.
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NARFE supports paid parental leave bill
NARFE
Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Barbara A. Mikulski, D-M.D., have introduced the Senate version of the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2015, S.2033, which would provide six weeks of paid leave to federal employees for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., introduced the House version of the bill, H.R. 532, in January.

NARFE supports the legislation, and you can read the Association's statement on the introduction here. The NARFE action letter on paid parental leave has been updated to include S. 2033. NARFE members can now send the letter to their senators asking for cosponsorship of this legislation.

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FEDERAL BENEFITS QUESTION OF THE WEEK

NARFE's members are well informed on their benefits and retirement options. Qualified benefit specialists are on hand to help members personally and to publish answers to questions like these every month in narfe magazine. Join NARFE today.


Spousal benefits
NARFE
Question: I am a federal employee and am divorcing my spouse, who is not a federal employee. Can I continue to cover my ex-spouse under my federal health insurance plan?
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FEDERAL UPDATE


A government shutdown: What federal employees need to know about their pay and benefits
The Washington Post
With a potential government funding lapse drawing close, some financial planning now will help federal employees be ready if the money stops Oct. 1. The good news for some is that the money won't stop. For the most part, this involves those working for agencies that are "exempt" from a shutdown because they don't get their funding through the congressional appropriations process.
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Phased retirement for federal workers is slow to take hold
The Baltimore Sun
Greg Havens has put in 32 years of federal service — three years on active duty in the Army and the rest as a flight test engineer. But he is not quite ready for full retirement. Havens, 58, said a phased-retirement program for federal workers would be a perfect fit. Working a part-time schedule would give him the flexibility he needs to care for his mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, while enabling him to pass on some of his expertise to younger colleagues at the Naval Air Warfare Center.
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New federal employee health insurance option will mean savings for some, higher costs for others
The Washington Post
Family coverage premiums in the health insurance program for federal employees and retirees will increase by 7 percent on average for 2016 because of the introduction of a new option covering only the enrollee and one family member. Meanwhile, current family plan enrollees who switch to that new option, called self plus one, will save 6 percent on average compared with current rates, the government projects.
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It might be time to kiss a 2016 COLA goodbye
Government Executive
It's becoming increasingly unlikely that federal retirees will receive a cost-of-living adjustment next year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Sept. 16 released the second of three very important numbers that will determine whether retirees get a COLA in 2016. Things are bleak: Based on the current data, there won't be a COLA boost next year, although things might change in September.
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STATE ADVOCACY NEWS


Governing with tight budgets
Urban Institute
The tenuous balance between revenues and outlays in state finances is becoming more precarious. On one side of the ledger, the growth in the traditional sources of state revenue is slowing down; on the other, expenditure growth is poised to accelerate. As a result, states increasingly will face more difficult annual budget challenges as they attempt to satisfy balanced-budget requirements.
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FINANCES


Credit cards now come with a chip embedded
CNBC
You may have recently received a new credit card or debit card with a computer chip embedded in it. It's part of a nationwide shift by major card issuers to offer added security against fraud — and shift the liability from card issuers to merchants, if they do not upgrade to this technology by Oct. 1. But will this new technology really help protect consumers and reduce the costs of fraud?
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HEALTH


Which works better, plain soap or antibacterial?
HealthDay News via CBS News
When it comes to ridding your hands of bacteria, plain old soap is just as good as many antibacterial soaps, new research contends. Lab tests conducted by a team of Korean researchers revealed that when bacteria are exposed to the standard over-the-counter antibacterial ingredient known as triclosan for hours at a time, the antiseptic formulation is a more potent killer than plain soap.
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TRAVEL


Good behavior is your most valuable travel asset
USA Today
Don't forget to pack your manners. Not because polite travelers are treated better, but because impolite ones are treated worse. Much worse sometimes. Rude people are treated rudely. It seems so obvious, but in the tourism business, it isn't.
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SECOND CAREERS


The key to finding satisfying work in retirement
Next Avenue
Why do you want to work part-time in retirement? It's an important question to ponder. Because when you really understand what's most important to you about working — both the financial rewards and intrinsic motivators like finding joy from helping others — it becomes far easier to zero in on satisfying options.
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CONSUMER TIPS


How to tame the energy hogs in your home
Consumer Reports via The Vindicator
Ever wonder where all of your energy dollars go? Knowing where your home's biggest energy sucks are can help you focus your efficiency efforts, says Consumer Reports. Here's a breakdown of energy use and costs in the average residence, along with steps you can take to bring your costs in check.
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We are NARFE! Join us!
The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association is the only membership organization solely dedicated to protecting and preserving the benefits of all federal workers and retirees. NARFE is your legislative voice and your information resource.

Visit NARFE on the Web at www.narfe.org.



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NARFE NewsWatch from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association
Disclaimer: The articles that appear in NARFE NewsWatch are chosen from a variety of sources to reflect topics of interest to active and retired federal employees. With the exception of Federal Benefits Question of the Week, News From NARFE and State Advocacy News, an article's inclusion in NARFE NewsWatch does not imply that the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) endorses, supports or verifies its contents or expressed opinions. Factual errors are the responsibility of the listed publication.

Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601   Download media kit
Bianca Gibson, Executive Editor, 469.420.2611   Contribute news
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