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Mitch Fournet's Jan. 14 letter ("A commonsense pledge for members of Congress") exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding of federal employees.
While I agree with most of what Fournet states, we federal employees under the Federal Employee Retirement System have Social Security as one of three legs of our retirement. A guaranteed benefit annuity and a Thrift Savings Plan (our 401(k)) constitute the other two legs of retirement.
We also have Medicare. At age 65 we are automatically enrolled in Part A, while Part B is voluntary except for military retirees (I am one), which we have to sign up for if we are to be eligible for Tricare for Life.
I have been paying into Social Security since 1964 and Medicare since 1965. I reached full retirement age for Social Security purposes recently and elected to start drawing a Social Security retirement. I also enrolled in Medicare (Parts A and B) in December 2011 but remained enrolled in our Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) and am enrolled in Tricare for Life. As a result, my health care costs have more than doubled.
We are looking at the possibility of having to pay taxes on the full FEHBP benefit, and there has been discussion by some members of Congress that we pay an annual fee for Tricare for Life. No great deal at all.