FRA NewsBytes - 01-03-13

In this week’s edition:

President Signs Budget Agreement with COLA Cut, Temporary Doc Fix
FY2014 NDAA Signed into Law
CRDP/CRSC Open Season Begins in January
Thanks for Using the FRA Action Center in 2013

President Signs Budget Agreement with COLA Cut, Temporary Doc Fix
In late December, President Obama signed the “Bipartisan Budget Agreement Act” (H.J. Res 59), which includes language that negatively impacts current and future military retirees.   It contains an egregious provision that reduces the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for military retirees under age 62 by one percent, starting with the 2016 COLAs. REDUX retirees (those who accepted a retention bonus in exchange for reduced retirement benefits) are excluded from these cuts.

Every shipmate should be outraged that members of the House and Senate, as well as the President, would renege on a long-standing commitment made to our current and future military retirees and their families. Although we have lost a battle, we have not lost the war. This provision does not take effect until 2016 and FRA will continue its work to repeal this provision before its effective date. Members are urged to weigh in on this issue through the FRA Action Center at action.fra.org/action-center/

In addition, the budget agreement provides a three-month extension to the so-called “doc fix.” Congress needed to pass this provision to prevent a 24-percent cut in Medicare/TRICARE doctor reimbursement rates that were set to take effect on January 1, 2014. FRA is concerned that, if such rate cuts are enacted, physicians will elect to stop seeing Medicare/TRICARE patients.
FRA supports the “Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act” (H.R. 2810) that would provide a permanent doc fix by repealing the antiquated Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and replacing it with a simplified system of physician payments for Medicare and TRICARE programs. Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center/) to ask their U.S. Representative to support this legislation, which is currently pending on the House floor.


FY2014 NDAA Signed into Law
On December 26, 2013, President Obama signed in to law a condensed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 3304), which was pared down to accelerate passage before the end of the year. Provisions in the bill include:

  • Rejecting new and increased TRICARE fees;
  • Authorizing a one-time offer to TRICARE Prime beneficiaries who live outside a Prime Service Area (PSA) to keep their current health care coverage;
  • Authorizing a one-percent annual active duty/Reserve pay increase;
  • Extending special pays and bonuses that would otherwise have expired on January 1, 2014;
  • Providing new protections for victims of alleged sexual assault;
  • Requiring DoD and VA to have seamless electronic health care data by October 1, 2016;
  • Providing for additional Impact Aid for schools with large military populations; and
  • Allowing veterans and service members not in uniform the option of saluting during the Pledge of Allegiance.

FRA’s Legislative Team will continue to influence key issues important to FRA Shipmates that were dropped from the NDAA.


CRDP/CRSC Open Season Begins in January
FRA reminds retirees who qualify for both Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP) and Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) that they can choose which compensation they prefer to receive during the CRDP/CRSC open season that runs for the entire month of January 2014. According to federal law, retirees can receive either CRDP or CRSC, but not both.

All eligible retirees should have received a CRDP/CRSC Open Season Election Form in the mail, which includes a comparison of the CRDP and CRSC entitlement amounts and information about tax implications. Retirees should return the form only if they wish to make a change from CRDP to CRSC or vice versa. No action is required to keep things the way they are and the current payment will continue uninterrupted. Forms must be postmarked no later than January 31, 2014, and the usual processing time for this change is 30 days. All elections remain in effect, unless changed in a subsequent annual open season. For more information go to:
www.dfas.mil/dfas/retiredmilitary/disability/comparison.html


Thanks for Using the FRA Action Center in 2013
Congratulations to shipmates and others who used the FRA Action Center to share their concerns with lawmakers during 2013!  Shipmates sent more than 58,000 advocacy messages from the Action Center last year, including more than 10,000 messages on the COLA-cut issue. If usage continues at this rate, we could exceed the 112,000 messages sent during the two-year session of the 112th Congress (2011-2012). Membership involvement with the Association’s advocacy efforts complements the work of the FRA Legislative Team and strengthens our collective voice on Capitol Hill.      

__________________________
NewsBytes is FRA's weekly legislative update. If you received this through a forward and would like to subscribe, please e-mail newsbytes@fra.org with "Subscribe" in the subject line and your name and address in the body. If you are a member of FRA or LA FRA, please include your member number as well. To unsubscribe, please respond to this email with "unsubscribe" in the message line.

If you would like to hear a recorded version of NewsBytes, dial 1-800-FRA-1924 (ext. 112).

Follow FRA on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FRAHQ) and "like" FRA on Facebook (use the shortcut of www.fra.org/fb).

FRA is celebrating its 90th anniversary and is the oldest and largest association representing the interests of current and former Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel. If you are not a member and are eligible, please join FRA at www.fra.org. The larger the membership base, the louder your voice is heard on Capitol Hill!