AFSA HQ Newsletter – July 26th

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 

112th Congress, 2nd Session

  • Senate: DC Work Week; contact lawmakers via Washington offices
  • House:  DC Work Week; contact lawmakers via Washington offices 

DoD Wants $708M From Healthcare; Draws Fire from House

Late yesterday afternoon AFSA received a copy of a congressional letter written in response to a DoD request that would reprogram millions away from the Defense Health Program (DHP) and TRICARE.  The bi-partisan letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta asks many valid questions stemming from the $708M surplus.  First of all, why is there a surplus to begin with? 

It indicates that in the first six months of FY12, DoD saw a downward spike in private sector costs through historically low rates of 0.6 percent for active duty and negative 2.7 percent for all other beneficiaries.   Therefore, retiree costs decreased 2.7 percent!  So if retiree care costs decreasing, why does DoD still maintain the need to raise fees, the letter asks.  “We do not understand how DoD can justify a request to raise fees on a class of people whose cost to the department are actually decreasing.  At a minimum, the reprogramming rationale raises serious questions about the department’s ability to forecast future health care costs.”  Put simply, retirees are costing the department less but DoD wants to charge them more! 

Led by House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Ranking Member Susan Davis (D-CA), the letter contains the signatures from 24 members of Congress.  It notes there was a similar $500 million surplus in FY 2011 and that the Subcommittee has requested a hearing on the budget estimation process that DoD and the DHP uses.  AFSA would obviously be interested to see how this plays out since it affects all of our entire membership.

Senate to Recess; Leaves NDAA Hanging

In the week prior to heading out on recess, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made it clear that the National Defense bill will not be completed soon.  Instead, the chamber will dedicate its remaining time to the Senate cyber security bill.  Reid’s decision drew scrutiny from defense heavyweight John McCain (R-AZ) who said on the Senate floor, “Can’t we as a body for the sake of those men and women whose lives are on the line, pass a defense authorization bill?”    Sadly, this week’s decision to shift focus away from the defense authorization bill fulfils an earlier AFSA prediction that the Senate would not complete their version of the bill before September.  It also makes it very difficult for Congress to finish the bill prior to the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.

Funeral Follies Foiled Soon

In the June 13th edition of On-Call we reported that many states were adopting laws to ban protestors like the notoriousWestboroBaptistChurchfrom disrupting military funerals.  This was resultant of a lack of action on the federal level by congress.  Two pieces of legislation have evolved to help keep funerals protected more of a reality. 

S. 815, the Sanctity of Eternal Rest for Veterans Act, commonly referred to as the SERVE Act, was introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and referred to committee on April 13, 2011.  The partnering House bill, H.R. 1627, the Honoring American Veterans Act, was introduced by Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL) on April 15, 2011. 

H.R. 1627 had a much more productive path of travel as it has passed the House Veterans Affairs Committee and subcommittees, passed the full House floor, and has also passed the Senate with amendments.  The remaining steps for this bill are for the House to accept the Senate amendments and then have the President sign it into law. 

H.R. 1627 falls into the category of “omnibus bill” meaning that it covers more than just one issue.  In this case there are seven major areas addressed with many subsections: (I) health care, (II) housing, (III) homeless, (IV) education, (V) benefits, (VI) memorial burial cemetery, and (VII) “others” section.  Significant among the subsections is section 102 of the health matters which addresses hospital care and medical services for veterans stationed atCamp Lejeune, North Carolina.  Also noteworthy is language in section 701 regarding assistance to veterans affected by natural disasters and section 710 which looks to extend periods of protection to veterans in danger of foreclosure or eviction. 

Section 601, Prohibition on Disruptions of Funerals of Members or Former Members of the Armed Forces, goes into great detail over many areas of concern for this subject.  Some specifics include: 

  • no activities in immediate area 120 minutes before & after a funeral
  • must remain 500 feet away during the funeral
  • violators can face minimum fines of $25K and up to 1 year in prison 

AFSA spoke with Senator Snowe’s office yesterday and discussed the potential of success for this bill to actually becoming law.  They relayed that many provisions of the bill were pre-arranged between the upper and lower chambers, and it is expected that the House will easily accept the Senate amendments.  As previously mentioned, that’s just one step away from Presidential endorsement. 

USAF Among Dead in Theater Shooting

As the tragedy in Aurora Colorado still unfolds, the names of the 12 confirmed deaths included two servicemen.  USAF SSgt Jesse Childress was a 29 year old reservist from Thornton, Colorado.  He was on orders as a cyber systems operator with the 310th Force Support Squadron at nearby Buckley AFB.   USN Petty Officer 3rd Class John Larimer, age 27, was assigned to the 10th US Fleet Cyber Command, also at Buckley.  AFSA expresses our deepest condolences to all the friends and family of these servicemen as well as to those of other victims. 

Lackland TI Convicted

SSgt Luis Walker was court-martialed for 28 charges including rape, adultery, obstruction of justice, aggravated sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault and violating a lawful order.  The charges stemmed from actions committed byWalkeragainst 10 different female trainees between October 2010 and June 2011.  He was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to 20 years confinement, dishonorable discharge, reduction to E-1, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.  This is the second court martial, and a second conviction, from the Basic Training scandal.  Investigations continue and court actions are pending for others.               

VETERANS NEWS 

VBA Challenge Training Impacts

According to a recent report, the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) forecasts that it’s “Transformation Campaign Plan” will meet VA Secretary Shinseki’s goals for 2015. The report highlights moves like hiring 3,300 employees since 2010 will greatly help to eliminate the vast backlog of claims as well as increase the quality of claims processed to a 98 percent rate.  Time will tell on how effective these initiatives turn out, but to view the complete report click here

HEALTHCARE 

Walgreens Back in the Network…Maybe

Walgreens Pharmacy had a contract with Express Scripts Inc. (ESI) as a member of the TRICARE pharmacy network that expired December 31, 2011.  On July 19, 2012 a new agreement was reached between the two companies that is supposed to take effect as of September 15, 2012.  Details of the agreement are presently unknown, but you can check for an update via TRICARE

NEW FEATURE

AFSA Partners with LegalShield

No matter how traumatic. No matter how trivial. Whatever your situation, we are here to help. From real estate to divorce advice, identity theft and beyond, we have your rights covered. In addition to this prepaid legal services plan, you can get the experts on your side with the optional Identity Theft Shield plan. Services include access to your credit report (or consumer credit disclosure), consultations, expert restoration and more. To access and login, click here

PROFESSIONAL AIRMAN’S CONFERENCE 

Registration Ending Soon

  • Wednesday, August 8, 2012, 11:59PM – last day to register via internet
  • Thursday August 9, 2012, 5:00PM – last day to register via telephone
  • Friday August 10, 2012 – NONE ACCEPTED
  • Saturday August 11, 2012 – register in Jacksonville in person 

Overflow Hotel Added

AFSA hosted PAC registration is now available on the web for the Jacksonville, FL events, August 11-15.  While there’s still room to register for the PAC, the primary hotel (Hyatt Regency) is at full capacity.   AFSA has contracted overflow hotel accommodations with the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk, 1515 Prudential Drive, Jacksonville Florida.    Overflow hotel accommodations can be made with the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk by calling hotel reservations at 904-396-5100 (press “2” to speak with an on-site agent) Wyndham’s 800#: 866.845.8862

AFSA BIKERS 

We want to recognize you and your travels regardless of make (Harley, Honda, whatever) Please send us an appropriate photo and identify yourself along with: 

  • Where you’ve traveled to over the years
  • Any significant events
  • How long you’ve been riding  
  • Etc., etc. 

We plan to include photos and a short article about our proud members in an upcoming magazine.  Also, if you bought one of our belt buckles, please wear it in your photo. 

Please share this with other AFSA bikers you know.  Click HERE to send your inputs

WORTH REPEATING 

“Work for a cause, not for applause. Give life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.” 

— Author Unknown 

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 

Plan on Traveling? Announcing AFSA’s new Trip Cancellation Plan!

Whether traveling to Cancun for vacation, participating in the Air Force Sergeants Professional Airmen’s Conference, or just venturing away from home, you need 24-hour coverage and assistance.  Travel Guard offers insurance plans designed to coverU.S.and international residents’ needs.

Plans can be purchased up to 24 hours prior to departure. Click here for a free quote. 

Air Force Junior ROTC (AFJROTC) Employment Opportunities

AFJROTC has employment opportunities for retired or retiring Airmen.   AFJROTC operates 880 units worldwide consisting of over 1,900 instructors and 103,000 high school students.   For more information about instructor opportunities, call toll free (866) 235-7682, ext. 35112 or 32535.   The DSN number is 493-5112 or 2535.   You can also click here for complete instructor requirements and application information. 


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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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