AFSA HQ Newsletter – May 30th

This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES AND USAF RELATED NEWS

SASC Completes Markup of FY 2013 NDAA

Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) finished marking up its FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As written, the draft bill: 

  • Authorizes a 1.7 percent across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed services and reauthorizes over 30 types of bonuses and special pays
  • Prevents a reduction in BAH for ANG members who transition between active duty and full-time Guard duty without a break in active service
  • Allows a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move for Selected Reserve members who are separated due to force reductions, but who fill critical vacancies in another Selected Reserve unit more than 150 miles from their home.
  • Repeals the automatic enrollment requirement of service members under the Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance program when they are insured under SGLI on their own behalf
  • Allows SBP-participating military retirees who waive their retired pay in favor of a survivor annuity under the Federal Employees Retirement System to stop paying SBP premiums.
  • Strengthens consumer credit protections for service members
  • Rejects proposed cuts to the Air National Guard recommending instead, full funding of this critical component in FY2013. The Committee’s mark also includes language establishing a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force
  • Establishes a Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission
  • Prevents DoD from raising TRICARE Prime premiums above the annual COLA, establishing new fees TRICARE Standard/Extra and TRICARE for Life, or increasing TRICARE deductibles and the annual catastrophic cap
  • Authorizes TRICARE Standard coverage for up to 180 days for members of the Selected Reserve who are involuntarily separated without cause under other than adverse conditions
  • Allows DoD to raise TRICARE pharmacy copays
  • Authorizes DoD to include over-the-counter drugs on the uniform formulary and establish a copay for these medications
  • Cuts more than $660 million from the President’s budget for military construction and family housing projects
  • Rejects the Pentagon proposal for two additional rounds of Base Reduction and Closure (BRAC) action
  • Clarifies authorized users of the Fisher House for the Families of the Fallen and Meditation Pavilion at Dover Air Force Base,Delaware
  • Directs the Secretary of Defense to request the views and recommendations of the Council of Governors regarding legislative proposals that would prohibit State courts from considering the absence of a service member by reason of deployment, or the possibility of deployment, in determining the best interests of the child in cases involving child custody
  • Provides $30 million in Impact Aid to civilian school districts with large populations of military children
  • Authorizes veterans to participate in the Transition Assistance Program for 1 year after discharge
  • Codifies the authority for DoD to establish a Space “A” Program for active and reserve component members, retirees, and their dependents beginning no later than January 1, 2014
  • Authorizes $67.6 million for the Armed Forces Retirement Home 

At $525.8 billion, the SASC mark is about $4 billion less than the House-approved version of the bill, H.R. 4310. The difference in funding is one of many disparities between the two bills that will need to be resolved when the House and Senate meet in their joint conference later this year. The most positive aspect of the SASC mark is the committee’s rejection of nearly all of the Administration’s proposed increases in TRICARE-related fees. However, it allows DoD to raise pharmacy copays significantly which AFSA opposes. The next step for the SASC bill is consideration by the full chamber. According to SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), the bill is on a “long list” of measures to be considered on the Senate floor in June, but that it could slip to July.

MILCON/VA Spending Bills Advance

Military Construction/VA spending bills are moving forward in Congress. Last week, the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee approved S. 3215 which provides $146.6 billion in overall spending for military construction and VA programs in FY 2013. This is an increase of $11.1 billion over current year levels but $465.9 million below the President’s Budget Request. The bill includes funding for an integrated electronic health record system linking VA and DoD health records and $54.5 billion in advanced fiscal 2014 appropriations for VA medical care. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will consider S. 3215 on Thursday and we are told an AFSA-endorsed provision that increases the per diem rate for State veterans home may be included in a Managers Amendment during the full Committee markup. The Senate bill matches funding approved by the House Appropriations Subcommittee in its bill earlier this month. That bill, H.R. 5854, is scheduled for consideration by the full House this week. 

Key Bills on House Floor Today

Due for a vote on the House floor today is legislation sponsored by Mike Turner (R-OH) that deals with child custody cases and military service members. Simply put, H.R.4201, the Service Member Family Protection Act prohibits a service member’s deployment or possible deployment from being considered when determining a child’s permanent custody. 

Also on the House floor schedule today is H.R. 3670 by Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) which requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. USERRA ensures employees who are called to active duty will be able to keep their jobs when they come home. AFSA will monitor the progress of these two important bills throughout the day. 

AFSA at Arlington National Cemetery, Air Force Memorial

The AFSA CEO participated in the Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at the Air Force Memorial on Monday and addressed the gathering with a theme of “The desire to serve, the courage to act, the ability to perform.” Special guests of this year’s Foundation observance included Mrs. Nell Calloway, granddaughter of General Clair Chennault, who was presented with a special AFSA coin. At the same time, AFSA’s Director of Military and Government Relations attended the national Memorial Day ceremony atArlingtonNationalCemetery, and participated in a wreath-laying ceremony later in the day. 

112th Congress, 2nd Session

Senate: State Work Period; contact senators in their local offices

House: DC Work Week; Representatives working in theirWashingtonDCoffices

VETERANS NEWS 

Fallen Troops Memorialized in Portraits

On May 22, VA honored all Veterans past and present with a gallery of works from The American Fallen Soldiers Project. Artist Phil Taylor has created portraits free of charge for nearly a hundred Gold Star Families. You can view photos of the event here

HEALTHCARE 

Skin Cancer Screening for At-risk TRICARE Beneficiaries

Melanoma is the third most common skin cancer and the most dangerous. It arises in moles and other tissue with pigment-coloring. TRICARE covers skin cancer screenings for individuals with family or personal history of skin cancer, increased occupational or recreational exposure to sunlight, and clinical evidence of lesions. Beneficiaries should speak with their primary care manager or health care provider for more information on getting skin cancer screenings. 

VA & American Heart Association “Go Red for Women”

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Heart Association have entered into a formal agreement to raise awareness of heart disease and strokes among women Veterans and Servicemembers, and wives of Veterans and military members. For the full story, click here

AFSA MEMBER BENEFITS 

AFSA Insurance – Life & 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. Please note; 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 

Enterprise & Alamo

Need a rental car? Shop here and choose either Enterprise or Alamo to get a discounted rate. Both sites have the discount embedded in them, so there is no need to enter a promotional code! 

AFSA 2012 Professional Airman’s Conference

AFSA hosted PAC registration is now available on the web for the Jacksonville, FL events, August 11-15. You are encouraged to sign up early and make your Hyatt Regency room reservation at the AFSA special rate while that special is available. 

WORTH REPEATING 

“And finally, for all of you who carry a special weight on your heart, we can strive to be a nation worthy of your sacrifice.” 

— President Obama at Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day 2012 

AIRMEN’S FORUM

What do you think of this subject?

Recent review of two different base newspapers revealed advertisements specifically targeting military members for liposuction of the waist, obviously pandering to those struggling with fitness testing. Since liposuction is not illegal in the civilian world, should it be allowed in the military? Click HERE to send your inputs


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This newsletter is produced and released on a weekly basis by AFSA HQ. To read the full newsletter, as well as archived entries, visit the AFSA On Call Newsletter section of www.hqafsa.org.

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