[afsachapter254] Fw: NAUS Weekly Update for May 20, 2011

  • From: "Joe Allen" <joechiney@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <afsachapter254@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 22 May 2011 21:57:30 -0400

NAUS Weekly Update for May 20, 2011
----- Original Message ----- 
From: NAUS Weekly Update 
To: Joechiney@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 10:55 AM
Subject: NAUS Weekly Update for May 20, 2011

      If this email does not display properly, please view our online version. 
      To ensure receipt of our email, please add 'mplumer@xxxxxxxx' to your 
address book. 
                  National Association 
                  for Uniformed Services® 
           Weekly Update 
                           May 20, 2011
      Send this NAUS Weekly Update to a friend! 
                        "The "Veterans and Military Groups" that approved the 
Armed Services Committee's work didn't speak for me."

                        ~ Floyd Sears, MSgt, USAF (Ret) ~


                              WASHINGTON REPORT


                              NDAA Coming to House Floor for Vote

                              The House was not in session this week.  It is 
scheduled to meet next Monday when it will consider the House Armed Services 
Committee report on HR 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
Year 2012 (NDAA).  The Senate met this week to continue its preliminary work on 
its version of various bills such as the NDAA and others.  

                              The House Armed Services Committee voted 60 to1 
last week, following a more than 16-hour marathon markup session, to approve a 
bill (HR 1540) that provides $553 billion Department of Defense base budget, an 
additional $119 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $18 billion to 
support atomic energy defense programs at the Department of Energy for the next 
fiscal year.

                              Under other provisions of HR 1540, troops would 
see an across-the-board pay increase of 1.6 percent, equal to the amount 
recommended in the President's budget.

                              Unfortunately, the bill does not, repeat, not end 
the reduction of payments under the Survivor Benefit Plan by the amount a 
survivor receives in Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.  Instead, the 
Committee recommends increasing monthly payments in the Special Survivor 
Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) through 2021. 

                              This year's HASC NDAA would increase SSIA and 
extend its life to Oct. 1, 2021.  Under the revised incremental growth plan, 
SSIA would be raised to $163 from $90 in fiscal 2013, to $200 in 2014, $215 in 
2015, $282 in 2016 and $314 for fiscal 2017.  These amounts could change in 
coming years but fall far short of the more than $1,150 deducted monthly under 
the current SBP/DIC offset. 

                              In addition, the Committee also approved an 
amendment to require all four service chiefs to certify that the repeal of the 
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy will not negatively impact combat readiness and 
effectiveness.  Chairman Buck McKeon said the amendment would help respond to 
lingering questions about the effects of repeal on homosexual policy on 
military readiness, recruitment and retention.

                              The Committee also approved a provision to 
prohibit use of military facilities for homosexual marriage ceremonies and 
barred Defense Department employees from conducting such ceremonies.  The Navy 
has revoked a guidance it previously issued that approved use of Navy 
facilities for "further review."

                              The provisions we are closely watching are the 
increase of TRICARE Prime enrollment fees and the increases in pharmacy copays. 

                              We know there will be amendments offered to the 
bill.  We will be monitoring developments closely and working to encourage an 
amendment to "hold the line" on shifting costs of earned benefits to military 
retirees and their families.  

                              NAUS President Matz says: "Please ask your 
friends to help you keep up the pressure on your congressmen and senators.  The 
final votes are far from being cast, and we must continue to let them know we 
are not for any TRICARE fee increase."

                              Member of House Personnel Committee Describes 
Dismissed TRICARE Debate

                              As readers know, an amendment to prohibit TRICARE 
Prime fee increases was refused consideration, ruled "out of order," during the 
full House Armed Services Committee (HASC) markup of the fiscal year 2012 
National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1540) last week. (see  May 13 NAUS 
Weekly Update for more detail.)

                              The unconsidered amendment sought to re-establish 
the legislative language that banned the Pentagon from raising TRICARE Prime 
rates.  The amendment would have restored the original language as already 
approved by members of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.  

                              In a newsletter to Florida constituents, Rep. 
Allen West (R-FL) provides additional description of the House Armed Services 
Committee action on TRICARE.  

                              Rep. West writes, ". after the Subcommittee on 
Military Personnel voted in favor of a one year moratorium on increasing 
TRICARE fees, Chairman Buck McKeon altered language in the full committee 
mark-up that increases TRICARE fees in 2012, and then allows Department of 
Defense to make annual increases in TRICARE not greater than the percentage of 
COLA offered to military personnel each year."  

                               "While the TRICARE increase for 2012 equals just 
$2.50/month and $5/month for individuals and families respectively, by linking 
it to COLA from 2013 on," the Florida Republican continued, "it gives the DOD 
the ability to essentially raise fees every year from now on, except on those 
off years when the COLA is not adjusted."  

                              "This seems to be a major break in the promise of 
TRICARE to those who joined the military," the Congressman wrote.  

                              And Rep. West concludes, "I do not support this 
full HASC initiative and recommendation on TRICARE." 

                              NAUS asks readers to please keep up the pressure 
on your congressmen and senators.  And ask your friends to help, too.  The 
House vote on the Committee's bill (HR 1540) is scheduled next week.  And with 
the Senate not scheduled to act until June or later, the final decision is far 
from certain.  

                              Together, we must continue to let them know that 
military retirees should not be first on the firing line for budget reduction.  
We are not for any TRICARE fee increase as a first effort to reduce runaway 
government spending.  There are many lower priorities that need to be taken 
well before earned benefits are reduced.  Please continue to let your elected 
officials know how you feel about TRICARE and the proposed increases.  Click 
here to send a message to your representatives.

                              How Can a 13 Percent Increase be Called "Modest"?

                              We remain puzzled by terminology being used to 
describe a plan to increase TRICARE Prime fees 13 percent, starting Oct. 1, 
2011.  It seems as though everyone from the Pentagon to the House of 
Representatives, the National Press and even a number of major military 
associations are calling the Pentagon plan on TRICARE "modest."

                              How does it happen that a plan for a 13 percent 
increase in TRICARE Prime can be termed as "a slight increase" or "a modest 
increase"?  What is the definition of "modest"?  Obviously for those who use 
it, "modest" includes increases up to the level under consideration, 13 
percent.  But what exactly is it based on?  

                              We looked but could not find a measure of 
inflation anywhere near the 13 percent level.  Medical inflation, which DoD 
wants to use to accelerate future TRICARE increases, runs around 6 percent.  
The cost-of-living index (COLA) has been "zero" the past two years, and the 
forward forecast for a 2012 COLA increase is nowhere near the "modest" level of 
13 percent.  

                              What would you call it if your mortgage payment 
was increased 13 percent?  Would you call a 13 percent jump in prices at your 
favorite restaurant "modest"?

                              Frankly, a 13 percent TRICARE fee increase is out 
of line.  It is excessive by any measure, especially as it is applied to a 
significant part of the "moral contract" promised to those who served a career 
in uniformed service and their families.

                              The House is scheduled to consider its version of 
the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1540) next week.  Please contact 
your elected officials and let them know how you feel about TRICARE increases 
for those who have earned the benefit by clicking here.

                              Social Security Funds Shrinking

                              Last week the Social Security Board of Trustees 
released its annual report on the Social Security Trust Funds.  

                              According to the report, combined assets of the 
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds 
will be exhausted in 2036, one year sooner than projected last year. The 
Disability Insurance Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2018, which was also the 
prediction last year.  

                              National Maritime Day

                              This Sunday, May 22, is National Maritime Day.  
It is a day for the U.S. to observe its proud maritime heritage and honor the 
men and women who serve and have served as Merchant Mariners.  If you know any 
Merchant Mariners, take time to thank them for their service to the country.

                              Coast Guard Academy

                              On Wednesday, President Obama delivered the 
keynote speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony.  It was 
the third wartime address by an American commander-in-chief to graduating Coast 
Guard cadets in the past decade.

                              HEALTH CARE NEWS

                              New TRICARE Screening Test

                              TRICARE has added coverage for an enhanced 
cervical cancer-screening test that helps detect the presence of the human 
papillomavirus (HPV).  

                              The HPV DNA test is covered as a cervical cancer 
screening under TRICARE's clinical preventive services when performed in 
conjunction with a Pap smear for women aged 30 and older.  Coverage is based on 
national guidelines for the use of HPV DNA testing and is retroactive to Sept. 
7, 2010. 

                              Preauthorization for HPV testing is not required, 
and beneficiaries have no copayments or cost-shares for routine cervical cancer 
screening under TRICARE.  

                              In addition, TRICARE covers the CDC recommended 
vaccine series to prevent HPV infection in girls.  The HPV vaccine is 
recommended for girls 11 or 12 years of age, but doctors may start the series 
in girls as young as 9 years old, and can give catch-up vaccinations through 26 
years of age for those who have not completed the vaccine series. 

                              TRICARE also covers screening for breast, 
colorectal and prostate cancer without cost shares or copays. For more 
information, visit the TRICARE Preventative Services website.

                              TRICARE Management Activity Welcomes New 
Assistant Deputy Director

                              Mary Kaye Justis was recently assigned chief, 
health plan integration and assistant deputy director of TRICARE Management 
Activity, Falls Church, VA. 

                              Justis previously served as branch chief and 
associate administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 
Atlanta, GA.  

                              ACTIVE DUTY NEWS

                              Priority Admission

                              San Diego State University is offering active 
duty service members, military spouses, family members and veterans an 
opportunity to appeal for priority admission into the institution.  The offer 
is effective with the July 11 start of the Summer 2011 semester.  For more 
information about the Priority Admission Program, contact the Navy College 
Office in San Diego at (619) 556-4927. 

                              Safe Harbor

                              Navy Safe Harbor is the lead organization for 
coordinating the non-medical care of wounded, ill, and injured sailors, Coast 
Guardsmen and their families.  Safe Harbor provides a lifetime of individually 
tailored assistance designed to improve the success of enrollees' recovery, 
rehabilitation, and reintegration activities.  For more information, visit the 
Navy Safe Harbor webpage or call toll-free 1-877-746-8563. 

                              United States Presence in Libya War

                              The War Powers Resolution of 1973 allows the 
president 60-days to conduct military operations without a declaration of war 
from Congress.  Saturday, May 20, marks the expiration date on President 
Obama's military actions in Libya. 

                              During the week, NATO air raids were conducted 
near Tripoli, Misurata, Hun and Sirte, hitting missile launchers, vehicles and 
ammunition storage sites.  Airstrikes also hit Tripoli, the Capitol's Interior 
Ministry and other government building.  

                              Last Sunday, NATO air forces conducted 147 
sorties, of which 48 were strike sorties.  Since March 31, air force missions 
total 6,808 sorties and 2,656 strike sorties.  

                              Asked about US boots on the ground in Libya in a 
"60 Minutes" segment, Defense Secretary Robert Gates replied, "No, the 
President has been very, very clear about that."

                              Pentagon officials estimate that U.S. forces have 
spent more than $750 million enforcing the NATO no-fly zone.  And, Congress has 
yet to act on the War in Libya.

                              VETERANS NEWS

                              VA Announces Disaster Assistance After Tornado 

                              The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced 
this week that special disaster assistance might be available to veterans with 
VA-guaranteed home loans who have been affected by recent tornados in the 
South.  Veterans living in the designated disaster areas in Alabama, Arkansas, 
Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee may receive mortgage assistance through 
their loan servicers.

                              VA strongly encourages mortgage companies not to 
initiate any new foreclosures in the disaster areas for a period of 90 days.  
The agency also encourages mortgage companies that service VA-guaranteed home 
loans to extend every possible forbearance to borrowers who are in distress 
through no fault of their own.  This includes suspension of reporting to credit 
bureaus and waiving late charges for affected borrowers.

                              Veterans should contact their insurance company 
as soon as possible to file claims for losses.  At the same time, they need to 
contact their mortgage companies to let them know their circumstances and 
should also start the FEMA disaster application process as soon as possible by 
calling 1-800-621-3362.  Low interest loans, cash grants, and housing 
assistance may be available from agencies associated with the disaster recovery 

                              VA has information available on its home loan 
website that provides basic guidance on options veterans should consider 
following a major disaster.  Veterans may also contact their nearest VA 
Regional Loan Center at 1-877-827-3702.

                              VA to Offer Debit Cards

                              The VA, through the Treasury Department, will 
soon begin to offer beneficiaries without bank accounts, an option to enroll in 
the Direct Express debit card program with Comerica Bank. Direct Express 
payments will be directly deposited into your account and made accessible 
through a debit card.  Personal funds cannot be transferred into this account 
as it can only be used to receive Federal benefits.  Direct Express cardholders 
have 24/7 access to their money at automated teller machines and can make 
purchases online and at any retailer that accepts MasterCard.  This is a first 
step in plans to eliminate check payments in the future.

                              The VA Million Veteran Program

                              The VA Million Veteran Program is an effort to 
consolidate genetic, military exposure, health, and lifestyle information 
together in one single database.  The database will be used by authorized 
researchers to conduct health and wellness studies to determine which genetic 
variations are associated with particular health issues.  For more information 
about MVP, including safeguards in place to protect the privacy and 
confidentiality of those veterans who take part, visit the VA Million Veteran 
Program website

                              New Family Caregiver Benefits Processing

                              In the first week for open applications the VA 
has assisted more than 625 veterans, service members and their family 
caregivers in applying for new services under the Caregivers and Veterans 
Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010.

                              New services for primary Family Caregivers of 
eligible post-9/11 veterans include a stipend, mental health services, and 
access to health care insurance, if they are not already entitled to care or 
services under a health plan.  The stipend portion of this service will be 
backdated to the date of the application.  Comprehensive Caregiver training and 
medical support are other key components of this program.

                              VA began processing applications for eligible 
post-9/11 veterans and service members to designate a Primary Family Caregiver 
on May 9, 2011.

                              Applications can be processed by telephone 
through the Caregiver Support Line at (855) 260-3274, in person at a VA medical 
Center with a Caregiver Support Coordinator, by mail or online at the website 
with the new Caregiver Application (VA Form 1010-CG).  The website application 
also features a chat option that provides the Family Caregiver with a live 
representative to assist in completing the application form.

                              NAUS NEWS

                              NAUS on the Road

                              Everett Naval Station: Veterans Benefits Advisor 
Mike Plumer will present a Legislative Update at the Everett Naval Station, WA, 
2011 Military Retiree Seminar tomorrow.  The seminar starts at 8:00 a.m. at the 
base Commons Club.  Come by and bring a friend to join.

                              Not a NAUS Member yet?  Join online. 

                              Back to top 
                  Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen 
stand in harm's way around the globe to defend our nation and our cherished 
liberties. NAUS asks you to please pray for their continued strength and 
protection-and pray as well for their families, who daily stand in support of 
their spouses, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and brothers and 

            National Association for Uniformed Services®
            5535 Hempstead Way
            Springfield, VA 22151
            Privacy Policy Comments about this edition of the NAUS
                  Weekly Update?
      Send this NAUS Weekly Update to a friend! 
      You are receiving this email as a NAUS Member benefit or because you 
subscribed to the
      NAUS Weekly Update with email address Joechiney@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
      Click here if you choose to opt-out from receiving the NAUS Weekly Update.
      If you prefer not to receive any further email from
      the National Association for Uniformed Services, please click here. 



Other related posts:

  • » [afsachapter254] Fw: NAUS Weekly Update for May 20, 2011 - Joe Allen