AFSA HQ Newsletter – February 21st

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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LEGISLATIVE & OTHER NEWS

113th Congress; 2nd Session; February 23 – March 1

Senate: In Session – contact lawmakers via DC offices
House: In Session – contact legislators via DC offices
Capwiz: open 24/7/365 – communicate with Congress at any time on any subject

District Work Period Drawing to a Close

The House and Senate conducted pro forma sessions this week and most lawmakers were working out of their local offices during the annual “President’s Day District Work Period.”  We hope many of you took advantage of their close proximity to meet with them, face-to-face, and discuss issues of importance to you, your co-workers, and your family.

Here’s a quick update on two important issues we expect Congress to address shortly after normal legislative activity resumes.  First is the “Super Omnibus” Veterans bill compiled by the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  As previously reported, AFSA-endorsed S. 1982 contains provisions that address many key Association goals—like in state tuition rates for all GI bill users, retention of VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for widows who remarry after age 55 and extending Veterans’ status to all Guard and Reserve members.   The upper chamber’s leadership hoped to fast-track this legislation last month, but it got derailed during the fight to reverse the COLA cut.  This legislation is back on track and procedural votes are expected to occur on the measure early next week.

Chairman Sander’s is asking for our help to make sure his bill gets the 60 votes it needs in order to proceed to the floor for debate.  Strong grassroots support will be absolutely necessary to clear this first hurdle—in particular, yours.  If you haven’t asked your two senators to support S. 1982 yet, please do so today via AFSA CapWiz. Also expected to be addressed in the near term is another “Doc Fix.”  Prior to the break, lawmakers announced a bipartisan plan to do away with this annual ritual and tie the amount that providers make treating Medicare & TRICARE patients to the quality of care they provide.  Spending caps would be ditched and payments to doctors would increase half of a percent annually over the next five years.  On paper this plan looks inviting but the “sticky wicket” continues to be its cost.  Its $150 billion price tag will be difficult for many in Congress to accept, and the bill’s authors are looking for ways to cover that cost.  One way or another, lawmakers must act on this issue pretty soon.  Language in the December budget deal postponed a 24 percent cut in payments to doctors who treat Medicare and TRICARE patients through the later part of March.

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