Armed Forces News Issue Fri, 17 Feb 2006
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Since 02-18-06


From: Armed Forces News [mailto:afn@fedweek.com]
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2006 10:52 AM
Subject: Armed Forces News Issue: Fri, Feb. 17, 2006

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Armed Forces News Weekly Newsletter To Military Personnel & Their Families Friday, February 17, 2006
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FEDweek and Armed Forces News are the largest information resource in the Federal Government, with over one million weekly readers.

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In Today's Issue:
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1. Proposed Tricare Hikes Labeled "Reprehensible" In a notice to its members, the Air Force Sergeants Association says the Bush administration's "reprehensible" plan in its fiscal 2006 budget to raise

Tricare fees and deductibles for military retirees under age 65, their dependents, and survivors "would change your life forever." Tricare Prime annual enrollment fees of $230 for retirees and $460 for families would jump to $325 and $650 respectively for E-6s and below.

Fees for E-7s and above would go to $475 and $950. Officer rates would climb to $700 and $1,400.

Tricare Standard would impose a first-ever annual enrollment fee of $140 and $280 for junior enlisted retirees, and $200 and $400 for senior enlisted. Fees for officers would be $280 and $560.

Annual deductibles under Tricare Standard would go from $150 for all enlisted retirees and $300 for families to $185 and $370. For officers the deductibles would jump to $280 and $560 respectively.
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2. Tricare Rises Would Degrade Retirement Under the administration's proposed budget, the annual fees described in the previous item would be indexed to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program effective Oct. 1, 2008.

The Air Force Sergeants Association says this would gobble up COLA raises and more.

For example, AFSA says by 2013 a married senior NCO on Tricare Prime would be paying more than $1,071 per year over current rates. A married E-6 in Tricare Standard would be paying $451 a year by 2013.

Deductibles for all enlisted members in Tricare standard would balloon from $185 (single) and $370 (families) to $298 and $596 respectively.

AFSA declares, "The administration plan for military health care increases would significantly degrade the value of the current military retirement benefit by taking an increasing amount of hard-earned dollars out of the pockets of retirees with no end in sight to the reduction of benefits."
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3. VFW: New VA Budget "Significant Step" The administration's fiscal 2007 budget proposal provides the Department of Veterans Affairs an 8 percent or $2.65 billion increase in discretionary funding for health care.

This "gives Congress a much better starting point in the appropriations process than ever before," said Jim Mueller, commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The VFW, along with other veterans organizations, registered concern, however, about the proposal in the budget to raise prescription co-payments and impose an annual enrollment fee of $250 for almost 2 million Category 7 and 8 veterans who have no service-connected disabilities.

VFW also is disturbed about the plan to almost double co-payments, from $8 to $15, for each 30-day prescription. If Congress allows those measures, an estimated 200,000 veterans would be discouraged from seeking help from the VA, and 1 million who are currently enrolled could drop out of the VA system, said the VFW.
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4. Shortfalls Listed in 2007 VA Budget The Veterans of Foreign Wars, along with other veterans organizations, have other concerns about the '07 budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs (previous item). First is the proposal to charge co-payments to veterans who already make co-payments through third-party insurers.

This in effect would force them to pay twice for the same coverage, explained the VFW. Such double-billing would impact veterans with disability ratings of 40 percent or less. Not mentioned in the budget, says the VFW, is how the Veterans Benefits Administration would address a VA claims backlog of more than 813,000 cases.

Concerned about the quality of claims decisions, the VFW also questioned how the VA is planning to overcome a huge exodus of experience as the baby-boomer generation retires from federal service over the next five years.
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5. Legion Links GAO Report to Call for Assured Funding "The GAO report (concerning VA medical care funding, dated Feb. 1) confirms what everyone has known all along," Legion National Commander Thomas L. Bock said. "VA's health-care budget has been built on false claims of 'efficiency' savings, false actuarial assumptions and an inability to collect third-party reimbursements - money owed them.

This budget model has turned our veterans into beggars, forced to beg for the medical care they earned and, by law, deserve. These deceptions are especially unconscionable when American men and women are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan." Bock said the GAO report amplifies the need for assured funding of VA health care. "VA must be funded on a dollars-per-veteran basis, indexed annually for inflation, with the ability to collect payments from Medicare or any other third-party insurance provider."

To view the GAO report online, visit www.veterans.house.gov/democratic/press/109th/pdf/gao06-359r.pdf
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6. Military Emergency Rooms Reported Overcrowded A report by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) asserts that the Defense Department's estimated 70 emergency rooms are experiencing overcrowding, partly due to the high deployment rates of military medical care providers.

The report also cites the mobilization and deployment of thousands of reservists as a factor. High deployment rates create high turnovers of doctors, tending to cause deterioration of quality care and patient safety, according to the report. DoD disputes the report.

Army Brig. Gen. Elder Granger, deputy Tricare director, says the report is not true because Tricare can quickly shift resources as needed.
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7. TSGLI Provides Traumatic Injury Payments TSGLI provides automatic traumatic injury coverage to all service members covered under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Coverage began December 1, 2005.

It also goes retroactively to members who incurred severe losses as a result of traumatic injury between Oct. 7, 2001 and Dec. 1, 2005 if the loss was the direct result of injuries incurred in Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.

This coverage applies to active duty members, reservists, and members on funeral honors duty and one-day muster duty. TSGLI is not disability compensation and has no effect on entitlement for compensation and pension benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or disability benefits provided by the Department of Defense.

The program offers 44 schedules of payments for traumatic losses, each running from $25,000 to a maximum of $100,000.

For more information, visit http://www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/TSGLI/TSGLI.htm
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8. AAFES Facilitates Connections After Military Moves Service members moving to a new duty station anywhere in the United States can now connect their utilities, cable, telephone, video, Internet access and other services through the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Military Moving Center (MMC).

This free service, developed and operated by QCorps, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Its one-stop shopping option enables members to complete transactions quickly (typically only three minutes per service).

QCorps has said its site also saves military customers money with guaranteed best prices from each service provider and special deals available only for military members.

Exchange customers can access the MMC's more than 400 service providers by clicking on the Military Life tab at www.aafes.com  and selecting Military Moving Center.
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9. NEX to Hold Drawing for Savings Bonds The Navy Exchange's A-OK Student Reward Program will hold a drawing Feb. 28, to help four students pay for a college education.

The drawing is for $5,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 U.S. savings bonds, denominations at maturity. Eligible students are dependent children of active-duty military members, reservists and military retirees enrolled in first through 12th grade.

They must be full-time students with a B grade-point average equivalent or better. Children without an individual Dependent Identification Card must be accompanied by their sponsor to submit their entry.

To participate, stop by any Navy Exchange with the student's current report card and have a Navy Exchange associate verify the minimum grade average. Students can then fill out an entry card and obtain the A-OK ID.

The ID also entitles them to discount coupons for Navy Exchange products and services.
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10. Recent Military Promotions

Army FY06 Major, Army Competitive Category, Selection Board Results https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/active/select/Maj06.htm 
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11. 2006 In-Print Retired Military Personnel Handbook Available For Immediate Shipment! http://www.fedweek.com/rmph.htm 

Distribution is Available to ALL Military Bases and we are now excepting bulk orders for shipment.

Go to http://www.fedweek.com/rmph.htm  order yours or to find out more information.

Dear Armed Forces News Reader:

For 2006, The Retired Military Personnel Handbook has been COMPLETELY REVISED AND EXPANDED AND IS STILL ONLY $9.95!

The Retired Military Personnel Handbook is now in its seventh year and has been distributed to military installations and federal government agencies all over the world!

It is specifically written for all military personnel and retirees and their families and is designed to guide you through every aspect of your retirement, explaining what benefits you may qualify for and how to get them, as well as providing a context for making many of the important decisions that lie ahead.

Here's a look at just some of what's NEW in the 2006 edition:

TRICARE Plus program--A complete, down-to-earth explanation of the eligibility requirements and the covered benefits

Federal LTC Insurance program --Contains the eligibility, benefit choices, and premium considerations, including how the program differs for active employees versus retirees, tax considerations and other aspects of the program

Tax Policies--The latest information affecting your retirement accounts, estate tax treatment and long-term care premiums

New Retirement Lifestyle Information --Including how to evaluate continuing care communities and nursing homes Incapacity Planning--New important information on protecting your heirs

Pay and Benefit Policies --The latest on COLAs, health and life insurance, Medicare and Social Security, Veterans Affairs and Defense Department programs, and a look at key legislative initiatives affecting retirees Important Points of Contacts--Just updated points of contact, benefit rates, addresses, tax treatment of annuities, status of important legislation and other vital material

The new SGLI family coverage option--What it will cost you and what it will provide

Survivor Benefits --The latest information on survivor -benefit policies and rates

Moving in Retirement--Special considerations for those moving

PLUS, COMPLETELY REVISED INFORMATION ON: Retired pay and benefits--how the latest changes affect you and your family

Disability retirement--qualifying, compensation, implications

Medicare and Social Security benefits--eligibility and requirements

Re-employment with the Government--the veterans' advantage

Financial planning--maximizing your military retirement income

Taxes in retirement--minimizing your tax burden

A plain-English explanation of TRICARE for Life--what it does and doesn't cover, eligibility rules and how to make in prescription drug policies

The new Senior Pharmacy Program--who is eligible, and how you can use it to save money on your prescription drugs

Tricare dental benefits--what's covered and what's not

VA health benefits--eligibility and facilities

Survivor benefits--spouses and family members, divorce

VA retirement compensation--types and how much

Life insurance--USGLI, VSLI and other Government plans

Other VA programs--assistance with loans, income, education, etc.

And much, much more!

"The 2006 Retired Military Personnel Handbook gives you the absolute latest information available on your military retirement and is a perfect tool to be used as a reference guide whether you are just nearing retirement or are already retired." Don Mace Publisher, Armed Forces News

Go to http://www.fedweek.com/rmph.htm  or see Below.

The 2006 Retired Military Personnel Handbook is only $9.95
(plus s&h) and you can place your order online at http://www.fedweek.com/rmph.htm  under our Military Interest section.

You may also call our 24 hour toll-free order line at
(888) 333-9335 and place your order or send your order with payment ($14.45) to:
FEDweek,
PO Box 5519,
Glen Allen, VA 23058.
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Armed Forces News
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Website: http://www.armedforcesnews.com
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