AFSA HQ Newsletter – April 18th

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; April 20-26

  • Senate: In Recess – contact lawmakers via State offices
  • House: In Recess – contact legislators via District offices
  • Capwiz: Open 24/7/365 – communicate with Congress at any time on any subject

Some Beneficiaries can Reenroll in Prime

On Tuesday DoD revealed its plan to reinstate some of the thousands of beneficiaries who were removed from TRICARE Prime in October last year.  PL 113-66 (FY14 NDAA) directed the Defense Department to give these beneficiaries a “one-time” election to continue in TRICARE Prime under certain conditions.

To be eligible, the dis-enrolled beneficiaries must reside:

  1. in a ZIP code that was a Prime Service Area (PSA) as of September 30, 2013
  2. within 100 miles of a military medical treatment facility.

To ensure the affected beneficiaries have a clear chance to continue their enrollment in TRICARE Prime, as provided by law, the eligible beneficiaries who were dis-enrolled will be mailed a letter advising them of their “one-time” enrollment option and the re-enrollment process.  According to information received by AFSA, these letters will be mailed on/about April 28, 2014, and beneficiaries will have until June 30, 2014, to make their one-time election.  To re-enroll, eligible beneficiaries will be required to submit an enrollment form, waive the drive time standards, and choose a Primary Care Manager (PCM) inside an existing PSA. The managed care contractor in the beneficiary’s region will then assist them with reviewing the available PCMs.  Relevant forms are located here (www.tricare.mil/Forms/).

Approximately 76,000 TRICARE beneficiaries will receive letters informing them of their eligibility to re-enroll. They will be re-enrolled effective October 1, 2013, and are responsible for paying retroactive enrollment fees. Any claim processed during the retroactive period for these beneficiaries will be reprocessed as TRICARE Prime claims.  Beneficiaries who choose not to re-enroll will not need to take any action. They currently have access to TRICARE Standard, as noted in the notice letters they received in February through September 2013.

MCRMC Update

The Military Compensation & Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) is reaching what would have been the end of their term had congress not extended the Commission.  Borne from the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the original deadline for a final report was May 2014, just 2 weeks from now.  Recognizing the enormity of their work and it’s potential impact upon literally every demographic of the military and Veteran community, the MCRMC wisely requested an extension that Congress granted; pushing the report back 9 months until February 2015.

Headquartered here in the metropolitan D. C. area, the MCRMC has held public hearings and town halls both here in the National Capital Region as well as across the country.  Of course every chance your M&G staff gets in the DC area we take, and we have assisted Chapters not only in attending events but also in hosting private AFSA-only meetings with MCRMC staff when in that Chapter’s area.  The AFSA CEO was also invited to meet with the Commissioners personally to present the Association’s position on numerous topics. Upcoming public hearings for the MCRMC include:

  • April 17 Fort Indiantown Gap, PA
  • May 21-22 MacDill AFB, FL
  • June 25-26 Fort Bragg, NC

While it may seem that we’re checking all the proverbial boxes, there’s still more we can do…and we need to.  Much like AFSA’s Capwiz allows you to communicate easily with all your elected officials, the MCRMC web page has a comment section enabling you to let them know directly how you feel about an issue, what you think a solution might be, or perhaps what is taboo in the world of pay & benefits.  We highly encourage our members and their families (including mom & dad back home) to use this feature to tell the story that needs to be told, giving the MCRMC a true perspective that hopefully shapes their final report favorably.  Click here to access the MCRMC comments page.

The tone in recent hearings involving Department of Defense (DoD) budgets for Fiscal Year 2015 have taken a noticeable turn.  AFSA has been “in the room” where both democrats and republicans, in both the House and Senate, have queried DoD panels on why they keep proposing changes for FY15 when the MCRMC hasn’t provided their recommendations yet.  The prudent course, which AFSA supports, is to follow the law; meaning, allow the MCRMC to finish their work and provide a complete report to build from.  To be clear, just because AFSA endorses the MCRMC process does not mean we will automatically endorse their recommendations for FY16 and beyond.  Based on close communications we’ve maintained with their staff, we’re cautiously optimistic but will be ready to engage should any MCRMC recommendations fly in the face of the platform our membership has approved.

Emergency Care for VA Beneficiaries

Many AFSA members receive care through the VA healthcare system and from time-to-time AFSA is asked the question, “What do I do if I need emergency care?”    The answer is simple, when it is not possible for you to go to a VA Medical Center, you should go to the nearest hospital that has an emergency room.  This Non-VA Emergency Care Fact Sheet (http://www.nonvacare.va.gov/brochures/NonVA_Emergency_Care_FactSheet.pdf) answers a host of questions pertaining to care outside of the VA healthcare system including what actually constitutes an “emergency.”   If you use the VA healthcare system, print it out and look it over so you know what to do in the event an emergency situation arises.

Survey Shows Veterans Highly Satisfied with VA Care

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), an independent customer service survey recently placed customer satisfaction among Veteran Affairs patients among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals.  In 2013, the overall ACSI satisfaction index for VA was 84 for inpatient care and 82 for outpatient care, which compares favorably with the U.S. hospital industry (scores of 80 and 83, respectively).   Since 2004, the ACSI survey has consistently shown that Veterans give VA hospitals and clinics a higher customer satisfaction score, on average, than patients give private sector hospitals.

VA Update for Gulf War Veterans

Click here for VA information for Veterans who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and their families.

Final Flight Down Memory Lane

The development and use of the B17 ‘Flying Fortress” played an integral role in the Allies victory during WWII.  During its lifespan, more than 25,000 Americans functioned as B17 aircrew personnel and only a handful of these awesome aircraft are still flying today.   On April 14 a small group of these World War II Airmen were treated to a short flight in a restored B-17 that in the words of the stories’ author, “transported them back seven decades to a time when they were young men and the world was at war.”  Our thanks to Stars and Stripes (http://www.stripes.com/one-last-time-wwii-veterans-take-flight-in-restored-b-17-bomber-1.278029) for republishing this touching story.

LEADERSHIP THOUGHTS

“It is easy to sit up and take notice. What is difficult is getting up and taking action” — Al Batt, American writer


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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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