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Legislative


Make sure to sign up for important legislative affairs issues from MOAA national.  See the MOAA webpage  http://www.moaa.org/takeaction/.     Keep informed—your current and future benefits are always under attack.  It is important!!


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Objective: Recognize COVID-19 changed the landscape for many of our priorities.

Overview: Assess programs relative to our priorities and ensure a credible accounting of the impact COVID-19 has on the servicemember, families, survivors, and the government entities on which we rely to effect legislation attending to these people and their concerns.

Actions:

·        Assess congressional influence already executed (stimulus), actions under consideration, and the need for influence not yet being discussed. Some of our concerns can be addressed through such spontaneous legislation.

·        Ensure awareness of COVID-19 impact on all issues, ranging from authorizations to appropriations and the mounting deficit.

·        Do not treat COVID-19 as a catch-all to explain difficult times, nor use COVID-19 to justify our priorities; rather, COVID-19 remains a discussion point and its impact may be significant, scalable, marginalized, or discounted altogether.

 

Objective: Protect the value of the military health care benefit.

Overview: Budget pressures, together with shortfalls in both the MHS’ readiness and benefit provision missions, led Congress to pass MHS reform legislation in the FY17 NDAA. MOAA will not fight to reverse MHS reform laws aimed at addressing medical readiness issues, but we will not stand by if MHS reforms are turned into cost-cutting exercises.

Actions:

  • ·        Oppose any proposal for TFL enrollment fees, increases to TRICARE Prime costs for active duty family members, or increases to working age retiree costs that exceed retiree COLA.
  • ·        Secure reduction in mental health and physical, speech and occupational therapy copays to eliminate cost as a barrier to accessing mental health care and other important therapies and bring them in line with high quality commercial plans.
  • ·        Continue efforts to increase transparency, DoD reporting requirements, and Congressional oversight of MTF restructuring and medical billet cuts.
  • ·        Oppose cuts to military medical research and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences which is essential to the uniformed provider pipeline and increases the number of culturally competent providers for military beneficiaries.

 

Objective: Protect the MHS pharmacy benefit and achieve flexibility in TRICARE pharmacy copays.

Overview: MHS reform legislation has eroded the value of the pharmacy benefit and poses a threat to MTF pharmacy access and zero copay prescription medications. Inflexibility in TRICARE pharmacy copays, governed by statute, require beneficiaries to pay full copays even when TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery program is unavailable or the full prescription quantity cannot be filled.

Actions:

  • ·        Oppose any plans to restrict access to MTF pharmacies.
  • ·        Secure an appeals process for Tier 4/non-covered drugs to protect military families from financial risk.
  • ·        Require DoD report on frequency of TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery out-of-stocks and feasibility of offering lower mail order copays at retail for drugs unavailable due to Home Delivery program shortages.
  • ·        Secure legislation allowing DoD to charge pro-rated pharmacy copays for partial prescription quantity fills.

Objective: Address barriers to accessing care within the MHS, including TRICARE coverage gaps and mental health care access challenges

Overview: TRICARE coverage policy is governed by statute and often requires legislation to remain aligned with new technologies and treatment protocols and benchmarks set by high quality commercial plans and other government payers. Access problems with mental health care, validated by an Aug, 2020 DoD IG report, are particularly pronounced and must be addressed.

Actions:

  • ·        Support pilot program to test MHS mental health appointment schedulers to assist beneficiaries with access to care and allow the Defense Health Agency to more effectively track appointment availability versus access standards.
  • ·        Secure an independent evaluation of TRICARE reimbursement rates for mental health care providers and the impact on access to care under the TRICARE program.
  • ·        Extend TRICARE eligibility to dependents up to age 26 with no additional premium to bring TRICARE on par with commercial health plans.

Objective: Protect family support programs, and ensure military-provided services (housing, PCS, childcare) are affordable, readily available, and meet quality standards.

Overview: Programs and services for military and veteran families are often the first to see cuts to staffing, quality, and availability when government funding becomes tight. These benefits are essential to ensure servicemembers are squared away and can focus on the mission. Additionally, military spouses play a vital role in a servicemember’s decision to stay in the military. When DoD prioritizes people first, it can retain a mission ready all- volunteer force.

Actions:

·        Create innovative approaches and incentives to increase access to quality childcare providers.

·        Address military spouse unemployment rate through resources, program expansions, and private sector incentives.

·        Push for full implementation of comprehensive housing reform and accountability.

·        Improve accountability of contract movers and claims during PCS moves.

·        Assess impact of COVID-19 on programs and progress.

OBJECTIVE:  Sustain Veterans Health Administration (VHA) foundational missions and services.

OVERVIEW:  Since the VA MISSION Act was signed into law in 2018, VHA has been aggressively pursuing implementing one of the most historic shifts in how VA will deliver care in the coming years—a system virtually untouched by major transformation in more than 25 years. There are a lot of challenges facing the VA as it attempts to sustain its four health care missions (clinical, research, education and training, and emergency management response) and the associated programs and services that have earned VHA its reputation as a high-quality health care system. 

ACTIONS:

  • ·        Strengthen and modernize VHA’s Workforce. 
  • ·        Eliminate health disparities for women-minority veterans to ensure health equity in accessing timely, sensitive, and quality care and benefits through VA.
  • ·        Expand access to caregiving, palliative, geriatric, and extended care programs and services for veterans and wounded warriors.


Objective: Achieve equity of benefits, protections, and administrative support for Guard/Reserve members consistent with their active duty counterparts.

Overview: Guard and Reserve troops can be activated with little notice to meet unknown challenges. The pandemic response highlights why we need to ensure servicemembers are always ready. Along with this, the transition to the “total force” concept has transformed the National Guard and Reserve troops into an operational force that is an essential part of America’s national defense strategy. Their readiness is essential, but despite conducting the same duties as their active duty counterparts at increasing frequencies, the reserve component is not receiving the same support.

Actions:

·        Pay, benefit, and retirement credit inequities abound and must be eliminated to honor the vital role of our Guard/Reserve servicemembers.

·        Financial readiness equals operational readiness; expanding Military Lending Act protections to the Guard/Reserve forces will support their activation with reduced stress to meet financial obligations.

·        Forced arbitration agreements for USERRA and SCRA must be eliminated to protect servicemembers’ rights.

·        Eliminate Guard/Reserve retirement pay processing delays and support timely health care benefits for retirees.

·        Assess COVID-19 impact on short-notice deployments relative to employers and concerns noted above.

 

Objective:  Reform the presumptive process to support veterans claiming service-connected disabilities for toxic exposures.

Overview: When deploying to defend our nation, we pursue cutting edge weapons, tactics, techniques, and procedures to defeat our enemies. After the fog of war lifts, the consequences on our servicemembers become apparent, sometimes decades later. When illnesses from Agent Orange, burn pits, and other hazardous materials cause illnesses, the current practice to place the burden of proof and record-keeping on veterans. Many are unable to prove their exposure. While research is done, ill veterans suffer without health care, benefits. If the veteran passes early, their widows will not receive the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

Actions:

·        Pursue enactment of legislation that concedes veterans serving in the Middle East and Southeast Asia were exposure to hazardous substances.

·        Increase transparency and tracking around toxic substance use and exposure.

·        Establish an advisory committee to recommend research to for emerging conditions

·        Assess the impact of COVID-19 and its impact on the health of servicemembers deployed to assist the whole of government operations in response to the pandemic

 

Objective: Achieve concurrent receipt of service earned retirement pay and, VA disability pay.

Overview: Currently those with a 40% VA rated disability and those forced to medically retire under CH61 have their retirement pay offset for every dollar of VA disability received. The Congressional Budget Office estimates fixing concurrent receipt will cost $33 Billion dollars over 10 years. An incremental strategy to break up concurrent receipt into smaller cost brackets can gain progress.

Actions:

  • Continue to support concurrent receipt legislation and the incremental approach to making progress.
  • Develop solutions with professional staff members and the House and Senate for feasible language in the NDAA.
  • Advocate to build cosponsors for concurrent receipt legislation such as H.R. 5995/S.3393 the Major Richard Star Act.

 

Objective: Protect Arlington National Cemetery as an option with full military honors for those currently eligible through expansion of our national cemetery.

Overview: The SECARMY has approved draft eligibility changes for internment and inurnment at ANC to extend the life of the cemetery. Unfortunately, if the eligibility changes are approved, many who had planned for an in-ground burial at ANC will have to change plans. 

Actions:

  • Advocate for a halt to the current proposal with DoD and lawmakers.
  • Engage members and TMC to make strong comment to DoD.
  • Secure new language in the NDAA that will direct expansion of our national cemetery, protect full military honors for 20-year retirees and prevent reduction of current eligibility.
  • Simplify planning by establishing a reservation system

 

Objective: Sustain pay raises for the troops and COLA raises for retirees.

Overview: Pay raises for the troops and COLA raises for retirees represent a commitment on behalf of our government to recognize their service and sacrifice, past and present.  Budget challenges often focus on reducing such outlays to help fund weapons acquisition and other programs. There is no doubt, such challenges will appear in the coming years.

Actions:

  • Protect COLA and maintain pay raises tied to the ECI
  • Monitor the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation for indications of DoD cost saving measures at the expense of servicemembers and retirees.
  • Continue to monitor COLA and pay raises each Oct and proposals in the pending QRMC.

 

Objective: Improve survivors’ benefits.

Overview: After the repeal of the Widow’s tax in the 2019 NDAA, there remains injustices to correct on survivor issues.

Actions:

·        Create a platform with TMC survivor committee to garner support for efforts commensurate with the 117th Congress.

·        Build cosponsors for The Caring for the Survivors and Families of Veterans Act of 2020.

·        Continue to support DIC improvement to bring it on par with federal employees.

 

Objective:  Ensure the U.S. Coast Guard continues to receive pay during a government shutdown.

Overview: During a government shutdown the USCG is not paid. Legislation such as The Pay our Coat Guard Act would protect Coast Guard servicemembers’ pay in the event of a lapse in appropriations or shutdown. For the 117th Congress the Pay our Coat Guard Act will require significant support for inclusion in the NDAA.

Actions:

  • ·        Continue to support and renew the TMC letter for the 117th Congress.
  • ·        Advocate lawmakers to cosponsor The Pay our Coast Guard Act.


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