Legislative Update October 2012

GET OUT THE VOTE!!!

 

This is the last update that will be posted before Election Day on November 6. I cannot stress this enough…. PLEASE make sure that you, your family, your neighbors, your friends, and anyone else you can convince, cast your/their votes in this most important election. If early voting is available to you, take advantage of that opportunity as soon as possible. Volunteer if you can to make some calls, talk to voters, make a donation to support those candidates who support the issues important to us as railroad workers and families. Don’t wake up on November 7 wishing you had done more… take action now!

 

Amtrak Under Attack in spite of Record Growth

In the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2012, Amtrak ridership grew 3.5 percent to 31.2 million passengers – up almost 50 percent from 2000, and the highest since Amtrak was formed in 1971. Ticket revenue jumped 6.8 percent, to $2.02 billion. At the same time that Amtrak is reporting these successes, Republican lawmakers are stepping up their campaign to end federal subsidies to Amtrak and privatize the nation’s passenger rail service… something else to keep in mind as you head to the voting booth next month. Before you vote, see where the candidates on your ballot stand on the issue of Amtrak funding. Losing funding for Amtrak will hurt us all in the long run as it will mean loss of jobs for almost 20,000 Amtrak employees and our Railroad Retirement System will take a huge hit.

Enrollment for Healthcare

Online open enrollment for health insurance is available October 2, 2012, through November 3, 2012. This is the time to review and, if necessary, make changes to your dependents, and to change your health insurance plan if you so desire. You can now do this online on the Railroad Information Depot website (www.rrinfodepot.com), which will be available through November 3. For personal assistance, call 1-800-753-2692.

New Benefit for 2013 – Flexible Spending Account

– Must enroll by November 3, 2012!

A new Health Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Plan will be available to certain railroad employees for the plan year beginning January 1, 2013. The Health FSA program, administered by United Healthcare, allows pre-tax dollars to be set aside to cover co-pays and other qualified health care expenses not covered by insurance, along with approved health and welfare expenses. For instance, if you pay income tax at a rate of 20%, you will save $200 for every $1000 you spend next year on health insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and any qualified medical expenses that are not covered or reimbursed by your plan. It’s a little extra work, but can save you hundreds of dollars each year. The plan is available to most members and dependents covered by the Railroad Employees’ National Health and Welfare Plan. You must enroll in this program now for the calendar year 2013, during the open enrollment period, which ends on November 3, 2012. The opportunity to enroll will not be available again until next year at open enrollment time.

To set up your FSA, add up what you have spent this year on deductibles and other expenses not covered by your health insurance plan for Medical, Dental, and Vision, to calculate the amount for your pre-tax savings in 2013. You will agree to have a certain amount (determined by you) deducted from your wages and contributed to your Health FSA. You will then submit requests for reimbursements of eligible expenses from your Health FSA, which means you’ll be using pretax dollars to pay for those expenses.

For more detailed information about the Flexible Spending Account, please see the BLET Newsflash at http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=5344.

Affordable Prescription Drug Program for Medicare-Eligible BLET Members, Retirees, and Dependents

The TEAMstar Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program is available to BLET members, retirees, spouses, and dependents who are eligible for or enrolled in Medicare Part A or B. Open enrollment for this affordable prescription drug plan begins on October 15, 2012, and ends on December 7, 2012. For more information about this cost-savings program, please see the BLET Newsflash at http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=5340.