SCFCMOAA Logo

Chapter News

News Story

January 2019 News From MOAA National

Dateline: 1/6/2019

State of the VA: Benefit Upgrades, New Website, and New Offices

 

True to his word, Secretary Robert Wilkie has been busy calming the waters at Veterans Affairs, implementing reforms to improve the veteran experience, and streamlining the delivery of services he committed to improving when taking office on July 30, 2018.

Customer service is one of Wilkie's top priorities.  This month he rolled out a number of initiatives to honor his commitment to making VA a friendlier and easier place for veterans to be served:

1. VA.gov Redesign.  After gathering feedback from over 5,000 veterans, servicemembers, their families, caregivers and survivors, VA took a bold step forward in modernizing its homepage to help veterans navigate the website to get at the content they need, quicker and easier.  With 10 million visits a month to the website, customers frequently voice their complaints and frustration with the layout and navigability, saying it focused too much on presenting information about VA as an organization and not what customers need.

“Veterans, their families, caregivers and our many customers have successful online transactions in their day-to-day lives,” Wilkie said.  “They should expect the same exceptional digital experience coming to VA.  Our customers will receive a more simple and intuitive experience when accessing our online front door - the new VA.gov.”

Click here and check it out! Tell MOAA know what you think of the website redesign at legis@MOAA.org.  

2. Benefits Initiatives.  VA also announced some benefit improvements to help servicemembers and veterans in need-see how these improvements may help you or someone you know:

·        Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program- new improvements allow servicemembers filing disability claims between 90 to 180 days before they separate from service to receive a decision on their claim within 30 days of discharge.

·        Veterans Impacted by Super Typhoon Yutu and Hurricanes Florence and Michael - VA declared the typhoon in the Northern Mariana Islands and hurricanes in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia significant disasters to warrant prioritizing and moving veteran benefits appeals claims to the top of the list for resolution.

·        Free Federal Agency Legal Assistance - VA joined with the Departments of Labor, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, and others, committing to improving and increasing access to free legal services for veterans facing eviction or home foreclosures, driver's license revocations, child support or those with other critical needs that impact their ability to work or seek health care.

3. VA Health System Realignment.  Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, VA announced its plan for reorganizing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).  The plan is part of a bigger initiative directed through an executive order signed last year by President Donald Trump, requiring reorganization of the entire federal government. 

The plan is to break up dozens of program offices, consolidating them into four offices to provide “greater accountability and clearer governance over these critical functional areas” - an integration and consolidation effort Wilkie says will reduce bureaucracy and help the agency focus on the veteran.

The four new offices are:

·        The Office of Population Health. This will focus on health care in a particular region, looking at population segments and markets to eliminate administrative burdens and redundancies, while aligning VA with other federal agencies and private institutions to promote best practices and standards. 

·        The Discovery, Education and Affiliates Networks (DEAN) Office. This combines two former offices, the Office of Academic Affiliations and the Office of Research and Development.  The office is charged with advancing cutting-edge medical care and innovations to address the complex health issues of veterans.  It also provides a platform for the next generation of physicians to deliver the most innovative care, thus also improving medical care for all Americans as VA history of medical innovations has shown.

·        Engineering and environment of care functions will merge into a single office to address environmental and safety issues across the system to ensure VA continues to deliver high quality health care.

·        Human resources functions delivered through four different offices at VA headquarters will combine into a single office to improve efficiency, transparency and provide more consistent service across VHA.

 

FEDVIP Enrollment Officially Extended for Three Months

Sign-ups for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) have officially extended for three months, officials at the Office of Personnel Management have informed MOAA.

Open Season ended Dec. 10, however OPM has granted a "belated enrollment phase" for potential beneficiaries who missed the first deadline. Sign-ups should be granted until about mid-March.

The Military Officers Association of America influenced OPM to grant more time for beneficiaries.

"We kept the spotlight on this by tracking enrollment and communicating whenever our members had feedback or an issue," said Capt. Kathy Beasely, USN (Ret), MOAA's director of health affairs.

Enrollees in the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program are required to sign up for FEDVIP if they wish to maintain dental insurance. FEDVIP provides 10 choices for dental coverage. As of early Dec. 13, about 639,00 beneficiaries had signed up for dental coverage. The target goal is at least 800,000 signups. Vision coverage is also offered, through four carriers. FEDVIP vision plans help pay for routine vision appointments and frames, lens and contacts. As of Dec. 13, about 300,000 people had signed up for vision.

To enroll online visit BENEFEDS.com or call, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, at 1-877-888-3337.

OPM announced the belated enrollment phase in a Dec. 13 meeting at the Defense Health Agency in Arlington, Va., attended by military and veteran service organizations. Officials said that 80 percent of signups have occurred online and that the overall process has earned a 92 percent satisfaction rating from those surveyed.

OPM will review its Open Season policies and identify changes that might improve the process in 2019. 

For those who have signed up: You will not see premiums taken out of your account until February. FEDVIP bills beneficiaries after each month of coverage.  

 

 

 

Still Working at 65? Here’s What Happens to Your TRICARE Benefits

By law, TRICARE Prime and Select must end at age 65. At age 65, TRICARE converts to a Medicare supplement. To continue TRICARE coverage at age 65 and beyond, you must have Medicare Parts A and B, so TRICARE can supplement the Medicare.

You do not permanently lose TRICARE eligibility by not enrolling in Medicare at age 65. You just delay Medicare/TRICARE coverage. Delaying Medicare enrollment at age 65 carries Part B premium penalties unless you follow the proper procedures for delaying, as explained below.

If you still are working, you have three options:

·        Use your employer-sponsored health care plan without Medicare/TRICARE.

·        Use Medicare/TRICARE only.

·        Use both your Medicare/TRICARE and your employer's plan. You can be enrolled in Medicare Part A alone at age 65 at no cost while using your employer's plan if you delay Part B/TRICARE.

You still must be working and using your employer's health plan to delay Medicare enrollment at age 65. After you stop working, you have eight months to enroll in Medicare before late enrollment penalties kick in. Your eight-month clock starts at the end of your health plan or the end of work, whichever is first. Enroll in Medicare before the end of the health plan or work to ensure your Medicare is in force before your current health plan ends.

Being covered by an employer's retiree health plan does not count for penalty-free delayed Medicare enrollment. You must be working and covered by an employer's health plan.

If you are U.S. Family Health Plan (USFHP) members and you enrolled in the plan on or before Sept. 30, 2012, and have remained enrolled, you may receive your care through the USFHP even after you turn 65. If you enrolled in USFHP on or after Oct. 1, 2012, the law requires that you be transferred to Medicare/TRICARE when you turn 65. However, if you move outside an USFHP area or dis-enroll from the USFHP after age 65 and then enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, you will pay delayed enrollment Part B premium penalties. To plan for worse-case, you might want to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B at age 65 regardless of USFHP coverage.

Medicare Advantage plans are Medicare Parts A and B. TRICARE works the same with Medicare Advantage plans as it does with government-sponsored Parts A and B.

Never Stop Serving

             
Click on service logo to visit their site