TRICARE and Benefit Improvements, Pay Raise Top MOAA’s NDAA Priority List

TRICARE and Benefit Improvements, Pay Raise Top MOAA’s NDAA Priority List
Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

By MOAA Government Relations Staff

 

The FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) timeline is now clear, with the House and Senate schedules released and DoD’s “by request” bill introduced by the House. The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to do a full committee markup July 21, followed by the House Armed Services Committee on Sept. 1.

 

The dates are later than last year’s markups (Senate in early June, House on July 1), with delays in the NDAA process the downstream effects of administration turnover delays and a late presidential budget. Passing the NDAA by the new fiscal year looks increasingly unlikely.

 

[RELATED: Inside the Biden Budget: Details on Pay Raise, TRICARE Fees, and More]

 

As the committees prepare, here are some of the many issues MOAA’s Government Relations team would like to see addressed in this year’s NDAA. In some cases, links are provided to bills which already take on these concerns and could be added to the NDAA text:

 

Support MOAA’s NDAA Efforts

You can make your voice heard on these MOAA priorities by asking your lawmakers to co-sponsor bills addressing these issues in the current legislative session. The more support these bills have, the better the chance of their inclusion in the final NDAA:

Visit MOAA's Take Action Center

Active Component

  • Military Pay: A full pay raise of 2.7% for servicemembers – given the president’s budget requested this figure, it is unlikely Congress will reduce this number. However, we will watch closely to ensure the troops get their full raise.

  • SGLI: It has been over a decade since the maximum policy amount for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance has been increased, and improvements must be made to keep up with inflation. A bipartisan bill addressed by MOAA (H.R. 3793) would make this change.

  • Parental Leave/Postpartum Policies: Legislation such as the Military Moms Matter Act (R. 3047) and the Servicemember Parental Leave Equity Act (H.R. 3122 and S. 1571) would expand parental leave, increase the recovery time before a physical fitness test is required for active duty mothers, and create a pilot program to streamline the postpartum appointment process. These changes would bring parental leave offered to servicemembers in line with federal benefits and options provided by many private, large employers.

 

Reserve Component

  • Incentive Pay Parity, Including Aviation Incentive Pay: MOAA backed the National Guard and Reserve Incentive Pay Parity Act (S. 1859) and seeks the inclusion of this bill in the NDAA to tackle this issue.

  • Ending Forced Arbitration: MOAA signed The Military Coalition letter supporting the Protecting the Employment Rights of Service Members Act (H.R. 2195), a bipartisan bill that would ensure service members can enforce their rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and avoid being sent through private arbitration systems because of fine print in an employment contract or other agreement. MOAA is working to prevent this provision from being stripped out by the Senate, as in previous years.

  • Standardized Discharge Form: The Record of Military Service for Members of the Armed Forces Act of 2021 (S. 1291) would reduce paperwork burdens as reserve component servicemembers seek their earned veterans benefits.

 

Health Care

  • TRICARE Young Adult Coverage: Premium-free TRICARE young adult coverage up to age 26 would bring TRICARE in line with requirements for commercial health plans. This issue is addressed in the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act (H.R. 475 and S. 1972) and is part of MOAA’s ongoing Advocacy in Action campaign.

  • Reserve Component Care: Enhancements to health care benefits for these servicemembers – including zero out-of-pocket cost medical and dental care; TRICARE eligibility for “gray area” Reserve Component retirees receiving retirement pay due to deployment credits; and an accelerated fix making Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHBP)-eligible federal employees eligible for TRICARE Reserve Select – are part of the Healthcare for Our Troops Act (H.R. 3512).

  • Mental Health Access: Improved access to mental health care within the military health system, including a mental health schedulers pilot; a utilization report on impact of copay increases on mental health access; and a reduction in mental health copays.

 

[RELATED: Momentum Builds Toward TRICARE Young Adult Coverage Fix]

 

Families

  • Basic Needs Allowance: The Military Hunger Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation in the Houe and Senate (H.R. 2339 and S. 1488), would provide an estimated $400 monthly subsidy to servicemembers with a household gross income (not including the Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH) at or below 130% of their location’s poverty line, as well as financial education resources. This has also been part of MOAA’s Advocacy in Action efforts.

  • Spouse Employment and Child Care Improvements: MOAA seeks legislation adding military Spouses to the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and authorizing servicemembers to establish dependent care flexible spending accounts (DCFSA). In order to be included in this year’s NDAA, the House Ways and Means Committee would have to waive jurisdiction, which is unlikely. If not included in the NDAA, MOAA will continue to push for passage as a standalone bill (H.R. 148 and S. 1532).

 

Retirees

  • Concurrent Receipt: Correct concurrent receipt for combat-injured servicemembers through passage of the Major Richard Star Act (H.R. 1282 and S. 344). Learn more about MOAA’s efforts to pass this legislation, other aspects of concurrent receipt, and the officer for whom the bill is named at this link.

  • 180-Day Rule: Support a servicemember’s transition by repealing the 180-day rule, a policy which limits federal employment options for servicemembers. MOAA has backed the Retain Skilled Veterans Act (H.R. 4031 and S. 2161), which would make the needed changes.

 

[RELATED: It’s Time to End the ‘180-Day Rule’ for Retirees Seeking DoD Civilian Jobs]

 

Survivors

  • DFAS Recoupment: MOAA seeks to support survivors by backing legislation that would end recoupment of a fallen servicemember’s last paycheck by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The Military Survivor Comfort Act (H.R. 2214 and S. 1669) would reform this process with gradual repayments and the option to appeal for debt forgiveness.

 

The momentum from this year’s Advocacy in Action campaign have certainly made a difference on many of the key issues that MOAA hopes to be included in this year’s final bill. Continued grassroots support will be key to getting these items over the finish line and enacted to support our troops, families, retirees, and their survivors.

 

MOAA Looks Out For You

MOAA is committed to protecting the rights of servicemembers and their families. Lend your voice and support these efforts today. Because the larger our voice is, the greater our impact will be.

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