While MOAA’s annual Advocacy in Action campaign may be over, efforts to protect your earned benefits through legislation are only ramping up, especially as the early stages of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) process come into focus.
The House Armed Services Committee released its NDAA schedule late last month, with subcommittee markups set for the week of June 6 and the full committee tackling the bill on June 22 in what has been a marathon markup session in years past. While these sessions aren’t the only periods where key passages can be added to the NDAA – and while the Senate has yet to reveal its timeline – they represent a major touchstone for what can be a complicated process of competing amendments and last-minute changes.
Here are just some of major issues and MOAA priorities surrounding the NDAA, including how you can help get MOAA’s message out to your lawmakers.
TRICARE Costs and Changes
The NDAA serves as a vehicle for multiple changes to your TRICARE coverage each year; MOAA outlined some of last year’s updates shortly after the FY 2022 bill became law.
MOAA has successfully prevented lawmakers from including TRICARE For Life fees or other unfair increases as part of the NDAA in recent years. This remains a top legislative priority, as does a push to improve the benefit on two fronts:
- Young Adult Coverage: MOAA continues its work to extend TRICARE coverage for young adult dependents, bringing it in line with civilian plans. An amendment addressing the issue was brought up during the Senate NDAA process last year, but it was not included in the final legislation. Learn more about the issue at this link.
- Mental Health Copays: The Stop Copay Overpay Act, part of MOAA’s Advocacy in Action efforts this spring, is the type of commonsense benefit reform that can find success in the NDAA process. While MOAA will continue to advocate for its passage as a standalone bill – one that prevents military families and retirees from being priced out of mental health services – sending a message to your lawmakers about this legislation will help it receive more attention as the NDAA wheels begin turning.
Military Pay and Other Benefits
While MOAA made the military pay raise another key part of its Advocacy in Action work this year, there is no standalone bill regarding this compensation – the NDAA sets the pay increase, and MOAA has maintained the 4.6% rate set by the Employment Cost Index (and proposed in the White House budget) should be the bare minimum for next year.
However, MOAA will press lawmakers to move beyond that figure as a way to address two issues affecting the value of military compensation. First, inflation has outpaced the 4.6% figure and significantly weakened the buying power provided by that increase. Second, lawmakers have yet to address the 2.6% “pay gap” from 2014-2016, when compensation increases dipped below ECI.
MOAA has proposed a 7.2% raise, adding the pay gap percentage to the current ECI figure. Sending a letter to your lawmakers with that message will support MOAA’s efforts during the NDAA process.
Other top issues with potential NDAA ramifications:
- Concurrent Receipt: The Major Richard Star Act, which would ensure combat-injured retirees can receive DoD retirement pay and VA disability benefits without a dollar-for-dollar offset, nearly found a home in last year’s NDAA. It has gained significant momentum since then, including co-sponsorship by majorities in both chambers. Learn more about the bill at this link.
- Arlington Eligibility: A Senate amendment designed to halt the discriminatory eligibility changes proposed for Arlington National Cemetery was not included in the final FY 2022 NDAA. MOAA continues its work on preserving the benefit alongside The Military Coalition, a group of organizations representing nearly 5.5 million members of the uniformed services community. Learn more about the changes at this link, and send a letter to your lawmakers asking them to use the NDAA to designate the next national cemetery.
- Basic Needs Allowance: Last year’s NDAA included this MOAA-backed provision, which would provide aid to military families with annual income near the poverty line. However, it left many details of the program’s implementation up to federal officials, including allowing service secretaries to decided whether a servicemembers’ housing allowance should count as income in the aid-eligibility calculations. MOAA continues to push for clarity on the benefit, which could come in the form of including the text of the Military Hunger Prevention Act (S. 1488 | H.R. 2339) in the NDAA.
Keep up with the latest NDAA news and the rest of MOAA’s advocacy initiatives at MOAA’s Advocacy News page.
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