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This issue of NewsWatch is provided to you as a member of NARFE. Please share this newsletter with your federal colleagues and friends!


Please help NARFE get co-sponsors for Medicare premium bill
NARFE is asking for members' assistance to get cosponsors for bills in the House and Senate that would prevent a 52 percent increase in Medicare premiums next year for millions of seniors, including Civil Service Retirement System retirees.

The bills, filed Oct. 7, are: S. 2148, the Protecting Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2015, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and its companion bill in the House, H.R. 3696, the Medicare Premium Fairness Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. These bills would keep Part B premiums at their current rate ($104.90 per month for most) for all Medicare beneficiaries in 2016.

Unless the administration or Congress acts, Medicare Part B premiums are expected to increase by 52 percent in 2016 for 30 percent of Part B beneficiaries – going from $104.90 to $159.30 per month. Among the individuals who would be affected are federal retirees covered by CSRS and who do not receive Social Security benefits.

The remaining 70 percent of Part B beneficiaries are covered by the hold harmless provision of the Social Security law. Under this provision, if there is no Social Security cost-of-living adjustment and Medicare Part B premiums increase, individuals who have their Medicare premiums deducted directly from their Social Security checks are held harmless from the premium increase.

The action letter for NARFE members to send to their senators and representatives, urging them to co-sponsor the recently introduced bills, is available here.
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Military service credit
Question: I am receiving military retired pay. Will I be able to use any of my military service in the computation of my civil service annuity?
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For 3rd time in 40 years, no Social Security increase coming
The Associated Press via CBS News
For just the third time in 40 years, millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees can expect no increase in benefits next year, unwelcome news for more than one-fifth of the nation's population. They can blame low gas prices. By law, the annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is based on a government measure of inflation, which is being dragged down by lower prices at the pump.
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Look for lawmakers to again target feds' benefits
Government Executive
Amid all the tumult in the House, Congress still faces a series of deadlines and must-pass bills, and federal employees' pay and benefits could once again be on the chopping block. The date foremost on the minds of federal workers is Dec. 11, when the current stopgap funding measure will expire and Congress must once again act to stave off a government shutdown. Leaders on Capitol Hill are currently engaged in budget negotiations to lift sequester caps and set top-line spending levels.
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Feds' achievements in cancer research, food safety among SAMMIES winners
Federal News Radio
Steven Rosenberg, the chief of the surgery branch at the National Cancer Institute, has won Federal Employee of the Year award for his work on cancer treatments. Rosenberg was one of eight winners of the Partnership for Public Service's 14th annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, according the organization's Oct. 7 announcement.
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Troubling signs lurk beneath optimistic employee survey results
Federal News Radio
The 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey paints a rosier picture of life in federal offices today compared with last year's bleak outlook, when the workforce was recovering from a government shutdown, furloughs and sequestration. Federal employees overall are more optimistic about their jobs, coworkers, leaders and compensation than they were in 2014. They are passionate about their work and willing to put in extra effort to see their missions accomplished.
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New ways to hire, pay, promote and fire federal employees considered by Obama administration
The Washington Post
Watch out, General Schedule — a far-reaching plan to change the way federal employees are hired, paid, promoted and fired is under review in the government's largest department. If not a warning, this is at least an indication of the Obama administration's inclination toward civil service reform. It also places the administration at odds with its friends in organized labor, who don't like parts of the plan just as they fought a program that the George W. Bush administration was implementing when Congress outlawed that system.
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Amid court fights, some states consider redistricting commissions
The Pew Charitable Trusts
The constitutionally required task of redistricting, done every 10 years after the U.S. Census counts the population, falls on state legislators in most states. But over the last five years, maps drawn by legislators in 40 states have been challenged in court amid accusations of gerrymandering or attempts to dilute minorities' voting power. And the idea of a commission doing the mapping, even if it still required legislative approval, is attracting new interest.
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Another record-setting year for checking account fees
Using a checking account this year may cost you more than ever, according to the 2015 Bankrate Checking Survey. Account holders are paying record-high fees for everything from withdrawing money from an ATM outside their bank's network to overdrafting their account. Free checking also is getting harder to come by.
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  Special Discount for NARFE Members!

As a member of NARFE, you could qualify for a special discount on car insurance with GEICO. Simply go online or call 1-800-368-2734, to complete a simple, no-obligation rate quote. Don’t forget to mention your NARFE membership to see how much you could save with your special member discount.


Study: Carrots do help aging eyes
HealthDay News
Your parents may have told you, "Eat your carrots, they're good for your eyes," and a new study suggests they were on to something. Pigments called carotenoids — which give red or orange hues to carrots, sweet potatoes and orange peppers, or deep greens to produce like spinach, broccoli and kale — may help ward off the age-linked vision ailment known as macular degeneration, researchers said.
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Many Americans travel abroad without key vaccines
CBS News
Ben Pratt is a frequent traveler and is planning a trip to India in January. He's getting his shots now to make sure he doesn't get sick while he's away. "I know friends that have been sick overseas, and I don't want that for me or my companions," he told CBS News. But new research shows many Americans are traveling abroad without taking this important precaution. According to a study presented recently at an infectious disease conference in San Diego, of the nearly 41,000 international U.S. fliers examined, 16 percent needed the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine — but only about half of them actually got it.
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    5 ways to identify your ideal second act career
    U.S. News & World Report
    If you're thinking about working during retirement, the choices surrounding how, when and where you work can feel both exhilarating and overwhelming. There are so many factors to weigh, including how many hours per week you will work, whether it's better to start a business or work for someone else and if you will be bored if you work from home.
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      Save with Aetna Direct

    Federal retirees: The Aetna DirectSM plan comes with lower premiums, waived deductibles and coinsurance, and a fund to help you pay for Medicare Part B.


    7 keys to successful price matching
    The best way to get a good deal is to shop around, right? But running from store to store can gobble up time and gas. That's where price matching comes in: Top retailers from Best Buy to Wal-Mart have pledged to match competitors' prices, so consumers can get the best deals from around town with only one stop.
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    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.

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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
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