AFSA HQ Newsletter – December 21st

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES AND NEWS 

NDAA Update

Congress approved H.R. 1540, the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act last week and the next step is for the President to sign it into law.  The White House Webpage indicates they haven’t received the bill yet.  By law, the President has 10 days to sign the bill once it is received and the conference report is now online for those who wish to view it.  You can find it here

FY 2012 Appropriations

Congress also approved H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which provides funding for the majority of government agencies through September 2012.  The President has not yet signed the $915 billion spending bill and the nine agencies it addresses continue to operate of a continuing resolution that expires on December 23.  More than half of the funding in H.R. 2055 covers Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs programs.   According to a House Appropriations Committee summary, the defense department’s base budget would receive $518.1 billion—$5 billion more than last year but almost $21 billion below the Administration’s request.  VA would receive a total of $122.2 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding. 

Doc Fix, Tax Issues

The House and Senate are at a stalemate on legislation that extends current payroll tax rates, delays a 27 percent cut in payments to doctors who treat Medicare and TRICARE patients (“Doc Fix”), and extends unemployment insurance programs.   Unable to reach agreement a year-long package approved by House a week ago, the Senate passed a two-month bill instead, then left town.  Tuesday, the House rejected the Senate’s package and insisted on a conference with the upper chamber.  Neither side is willing to budge on the issue, and at the moment, only the House remains in town and in session.  As previously reported, the lack of legislation delaying the sharp cut in payments to doctors could prove to be problematic for TRICARE beneficiaries.  If the cuts are allowed to go through, doctors are less inclined to accept or treat patients who use the program.  Several lawmakers expressed optimism an agreement can be reached before the end of the year, but with only one chamber here in town, it will be difficult. 

Expedited Screenings for Military Personnel at Airports

Traveling through airports may soon get a little easier for Active Duty service members and their families traveling on military orders.  Yesterday, the House approved H.R. 1801, Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act which allows the Transportation Security Agency to expedite screening of military members and their families at airports.  The House passed the original version of the bill back in November, but the Senate amended it when they approved the bill early last week.  The House agreed to those changes on Tuesday, and H.R. 1801 now heads to the President for his signature.   The Bill reads: “IN GENERAL – The Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration), in consultation with the Department of Defense, shall develop and implement a plan to provide expedited security screening services for a member of the armed forces, and, to the extent possible, any accompanying family member, if the member of the armed forces, while in uniform, presents documentation indicating official orders for air transportation departing from a primary airport (as defined in section 47102).” 

Congress Ends Year on a Low Note  

Lawmakers achieved an 11 percent job approval rating in a Gallup poll released Monday, the lowest job approval rating in their poll which began in 1974.   Overall, Congress earned a 17 percent approval rating for the year which is the lowest annual approval rating in the polls history as well.  Historically, Congress has never been popular; the annual congressional job approval rating in theGalluppoll averages 34 percent.  Their highest approval rating came back in October 2001—the month after 9/11.  The perceived bad economy, increasing polarization between political parties and the inability of lawmakers to reach consensus on major issues were cited as probable reasons for this week’s record low figure.

Seasons Greetings!

AFSA International Headquarters wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  We would also like to say thanks for your dedicated support to AFSA and its goals.  With your help, we will continue to educate the members of Congress to ensure a high quality of life for dedicated men and women serving, and who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces. 

VETERANS NEWS

What Can VA Do For Me?

VA offers a variety of services and benefits to Veterans. See what you may qualify for by clicking here

Combat Call Center (877-WAR-VETS)

The CombatCallCenteris a confidential hotline staffed by combat Veterans—and their spouses—from all eras.   Vets and their loved ones can call to talk about their military experience and readjustment to civilian life.  To learn more, click here

HEALTHCARE 

Need Some Help Finding a Doctor in Your Area? 

Get helpful resources here and remember you can always call your regional contractor for further assistance. 

AFSA Shares Disability Concerns

According to the recently released 2011 Disability Divide: Advisor Study from the Council for Disability Awareness, “Most consumers and advisors think injuries trigger the majority of disabilities, but the reality is that illnesses such as musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. back problems), cancer and heart disease are 10 times more likely than accidents to interrupt a wage earner’s income. All wage earners ought to recognize the facts about their own personal disability risk. They get the fact that they can’t live without their income, they agree disability can happen at any time, but they deny the disability can happen to them personally. Most people’s financial future depends on income and the ability to work, but there are no guarantees for any of us that our present state of health will continue in the future. The research showed that even though nearly all consumers say their ability to earn an income is their most important asset, astonishingly, 37 percent say they have never thought about protecting it.”  The full report can be viewed here 

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS 

AFSA Insurance Life and Health

For information and applications on any of these insurance plans please contact Marsh Affinity Group Services toll-free at (800) 882-5541, or online here.   Coverage may vary or not be issued in all states. 

  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance Plan
  • Cancer Expense Insurance
  • Group Dental Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Short-Term Recovery Insurance Plan
  • TRICARE Supplement Insurance
  • Life Line Health Screenings 

Share your AFSA pride!

AFSA has a wide range of very reasonably priced caps, commemorative coins, decals, medals, pins, plaques, awards and certificates available 24/7 on our website

Scholarships for Air Force Enlisted Members Dependent Children and Air Force Sergeants Association Auxiliary

The Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) and the Airmen Memorial Foundation (AMF) joined together to conduct a scholarship program to financially assist the undergraduate studies of eligible, dependent children of the Total Air Force which includes Air Force Active Duty (AFAD), Air National Guard (ANG) , and Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) enlisted members in active duty, retired, or veteran status. Applications are screened and verified for eligibility prior to submission to the respective selection committee(s). The AFSA and AFSA International Auxiliary programs have membership requirements, but there are no association membership requirements for the AMF or CMSAF programs.

Applications for the upcoming academic year will be available between January 1 and March 31.   Completed application packages with all required documents can be sent to AFSA Headquarters between January 1 and March 3.  Incomplete packages or packages received after March 31 are ineligible for consideration. 

AROUND THE AIR FORCE 

End-of-Year Membership Drive

Don’t forget the2011 End-of-Year Membership Drivewhich runs through the end of December!   We have authorized a special membership rate; 5-years for $100.00! 

Applications must be mailed to the HQ NLT December 31, 2011 to qualify.  HQ will also accept applications via the phone at (800) 638-0594, Ext 288. 

WORTH REPEATING

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things, not the great occasions, give off the greatest glow of happiness.” 

Bob Hope 

We want to hear your thoughts and opinions.  Complete the sentence below!  What’s your top 10 list for AFSA?  Go ahead.  Don’t be bashful.  Send it. 

“I THINK AFSA SHOULD __________.”

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