A spouse asks if she has Medicare coverage

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

Because my spouse was being treated for cancer, I completely forgot to apply for Medicare part B before my 65th birthday. I did apply for Part B before 66th birthday and it was effective in July. Last month, I had a prescription filled with cost. When I asked about TFL, the pharmacy checked and was told that I was not covered. Please advise.

Alice
Via the internet

Dear Alice,

A couple of things come to mind. First check with DEERS (the Tricare registration/enrollment system at http://www.tricare.mil/DEERS/ or call 1-800-538-9552) to ensure they have updated you as having Medicare Parts A and B. The other thing is to ask DEERS what they show about your pharmacy coverage. It should be only Tricare pharmacy coverage and no other drug plan.

Shaft Notes

• The influential political newspaper, The Hill, has named the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) one of the top lobbying organizations in Washington, D.C., for the seventh consecutive year.

The Hill article states that “Among the thousands of advocates in the nation’s capital, only a select few have risen to the top of their profession to earn a slot on The Hill’s Top Lobbyists list. The Hill uses the term “lobbyist” broadly here to encompass the people who are working day in and day out to influence federal policy…they all have one thing in common: a proven ability to make things happen in Washington.”

The Hill particularly cited retired Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, MOAA’s President. “Ryan is the field general for the association’s campaign to shield the pay and benefits of U.S. forces from budget cuts,” The Hill stated.

“We are again very proud to be acknowledged by The Hill,” Ryan said. “It’s especially gratifying to have recognition of our campaign to protect the pay and benefits of those that serve and have served from arbitrary budget cuts.  But it takes an entire team effort to do just that – our board of directors, our entire staff, our strong chapter system, our partners and our terrific members that give us One Powerful Voice!  We will need that entire team more than ever in the challenging months ahead.”

• Rep. Dina Titus (NV-01), the Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, led a hearing today that examined the current state of national veterans’ cemeteries. Titus joined other western members of Congress in raising concerns over a lack of access to national cemeteries, particularly in western states.

The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has grown dramatically since its creation in 1862 when 14 cemeteries were established to serve as a permanent resting place for those killed during the Civil War. While there are now 131 national cemeteries, 11 states with a combined veteran population of 1.8 million are not served by a national cemetery.

Titus highlighted the chasm that exists in the west whereby more than half of the 11 states without a National Cemetery are in the Western United States: Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota.

“It is my belief that the option of a burial in a VA national cemetery, in the state you call home, is a solemn obligation our government should fulfill,” said Rep. Titus. “The state with the largest veterans population without a national cemetery happens to be Nevada, which is home to a fast growing population of over 301,000 veterans. Western states have been overlooked for too long.”

• The Friends of the National World War II Memorial (Friends) and the National Park Service (NPS) will pay tribute to the more than 16 million men and women who served with the U.S. armed forces during World War II during a special Veterans Day event at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Monday, November 11, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will give the keynote address and present a wreath at the Freedom Wall along with veterans from World War II. A Maryland native, Governor O’Malley is in his second term as Governor. Prior to that, he served as the Mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007. Governor O’Malley’s father, Thomas Martin O’Malley, served as a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific theater during the Second World War.

As part of the ceremony, United States Postal Service Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe will unveil and dedicate the World War II Medal of Honor Forever stamps which honor the 464 recipients of the award for their heroic actions during World War II. Three of the surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipients are expected to attend the dedication.

The United States Air Force Band Brass Quintet will play throughout the ceremony. The ceremony will begin with the posting of colors by the Military District of Washington’s Armed Forces Color Guard and, following remarks by honored guests and wreath layings, will conclude with the playing of Taps.

About The Friends of the National World War II Memorial, Inc.: Founded in 2007, the Friends of the National World War II Memorial is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to ensuring that the legacy, lessons, and sacrifices of World War II are not forgotten and enhancing the educational experience for visitors to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. The nonprofit organization was established by former American Battle Monuments Commission members, who were responsible for implementing a Congressional mandate to recommend a site and a design and to fund and build the National World War II Memorial. They were concerned with making the Memorial all that it was intended to be by its planners: an open, welcoming, gathering place on the National Mall; a place of reverent remembrance; and a place to honor and celebrate the spirit of America during World War II. With growing private support, the cooperation of the National Park Service, the Military District of Washington, and others, these hopes are being realized.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.