The “Doc-Fix” Fixed for another Year; Key Bills Clear Congress

This bulletin was cross-posted from HQAFSA.org, the official website for the Air Force Sergeants Association Headquarters. It has been posted here for your convenience. Visit HQAFSA.org for more updates!

As the 112th Congressional session closes, all Americans witnessed considerable haggling by our elected leaders as they worked to resolve the numerous “Fiscal Cliff” issues. Included in the near term deal, Congress wrote language preventing cuts in reimbursements to doctors who treat TRICARE and Medicare patients. Under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8), rates are now extended at the 2012’s rates through December 31, 2013, allowing Congress yet another year to develop a permanent solution.

In other news, some key AFSA-endorsed legislation cleared the House over the weekend and are now being sent for the President’s signature. These are: S. 3202, the “Dignified Burial of Veterans Act of 2012” , tasking the American Battle Monuments Commission to assume responsibility for the US Military Cemetery at the former Clark Air Base. As the lead enlisted Association pressing for this important legislation, we were extremely pleased to learn of its passage! Next, S. 3202 also directs VA and DoD to maintain an open burn pit registry for service members and veterans who may have been exposed to hazardous substances incinerated at sites in combat theatres of operation. Lawmakers hope the registry will help VA learn more about burn pit exposure by documenting personnel who were exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes from open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lastly, H.R. 4057, “Improving Transparency for Education Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2012,” requiring the VA to develop a comprehensive policy to improve outreach and transparency for veterans and members of the military regarding institutions of higher learning. This bill also expands VA’s reporting requirements pertaining to the use of the GI Bill and prohibits any institution of higher learning from using commissions or bonuses to induce admissions into their program.

At a time when negativity and political paralysis dominate headlines, it’s GREAT to see something positive come out of Washington. These welcomed, last minute victories were a great way to end another successful year for your Association.

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