Coalition Highlights Defense Bill Priorities. MOAA and The Military Coalition have written Hill leaders urging priority action to reduce proposed TRICARE pharmacy copays, protect against ill-advised retirement changes, and more.
Action Needed to Help Wounded. MOAA President VADM Norb Ryan’s (USN-Ret) Military.com Op Ed says Administration and Hill leaders must do better by our wounded, ill, and injured and their families and caregivers.
TRICARE Access Survey. Have you had trouble finding a doctor who accepts TRICARE within the past year? The Defense Department has asked MOAA to help identify localities with health care access problems. Here’s your chance to provide your input.
Coalition Highlights Defense Bill Priorities
MOAA and The Military Coalition (TMC) have sent House and Senate leaders a letter highlighting Coalition priorities for resolving differences between the House-passed and Senate Armed Services Committee versions of the FY2013 Defense Authorization Bill.
The full Senate won’t take up the defense bill until the lame duck session after the election, but that will likely be an expedited process with limited amendments.
In the meantime, House and Senate Armed Services Committee staffs already are beginning to negotiate possible compromises on issues where the two bills differ. That’s because House and Senate leaders likely will only have a couple of weeks after Senate action to finalize and pass the final compromise bill.
“If we waited to offer our inputs until the Senate finishes action on the bill, most of the substantive negotiations on our issues could already be wrapped up,” said MOAA Government Relations Director Col Steve Strobridge (USAF-Ret), who also serves as Co-Chairman of the 34-association Coalition. “You can’t hope to influence the process if it’s already over.”
The Coalition letter urged Hill leaders to:
- Adopt House-passed language to limit current and future TRICARE pharmacy copay increases in return for requiring a one-year test of mail-order (or military pharmacy) refills of maintenance medications for TFL-eligibles.
- Drop restrictive provisions concerning a Senate-proposed special commission to consider changes to military retirement and compensation systems. The proposal would allow the Administration to pick all the commissioners, bar participation by current or recent military association representatives, and require a congressional vote on the proposals with little debate and no amendments
- Retain House-approved language recognizing that the unique and extraordinary demands inherent in a multi-decade service career constitute a very large pre-paid premium for their career health benefits – over and above the cash fees paid in retirement.
- Retain a House-passed provision that limits annual Army and Marine Corps force reductions. The letter also expressed concern about ongoing cuts to the Navy Reserve.
- Retain Senate-passed consumer protection enhancements for troops and family members.
- Support a House proposal to authorize Applied Behavior Analysis therapy as a TRICARE benefit for autism treatment, but extend the benefit equally to all uniformed services and make it available to family members with other diagnoses that benefit from such therapy. As written, the House language would deny coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries of the Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health Service, and NOAA.
The Coalition letter particularly emphasized the pharmacy copay and retirement commission issues.
“Defense leaders’ claims that higher copays are essential to offset dramatically rising costs ring hollow,” it said, “when their reprogramming requests show costs actually declined this year, and expenses have been nearly $3 billion less than expected over the last three years.”
As for the commission, “TMC objects strenuously to short-circuiting the normal legislative process by imposing BRAC-like consideration rules on an issue [military retirement] that has proven so crucial to long-term retention and readiness.”
The Coalition also expressed support for anticipated Senate amendments to address unfair compensation penalties experienced by disabled retirees and military survivors.
Attached to the letter was a more detailed matrix of TMC recommendations on many specific House and Senate provisions, broken into sections affecting active duty personnel, Guard/Reserve issues, retiree and survivor issues, health care matters, and veterans and other issues.
Action Needed to Help Wounded
In an October 9th Military.com op-ed, MOAA President VADM Norb Ryan (USN-Ret) called on Executive and Congressional leaders to do more for those who have been wounded serving our nation.
He points out that rhetoric on the subject is not enough, and calls on leaders to make eight specific commitments to get care quickly to those in need.
"What's desperately needed now is a war on leadership complacency about delivering essential care for its veteran, family, and caregiver victims," Ryan asserts in the column.
Read the op-ed and share your thoughts in the comment section.
TRICARE Access Survey
Have you had trouble finding a health care provider that accepts TRICARE within the past year?
If so, please take 3-4 minutes to fill out our brief TRICARE access survey.
DoD has asked MOAA to help identify areas of the country that may be having access issues so they can better target their formal surveys to identify and address problem areas.
If TRICARE beneficiaries in your area have been having problems, here’s your chance to try to do something about it.
Take our survey now.