FRA's 2014 Legislative Agenda
FRA will fight to preserve and enhance benefits and quality-of-life programs for active, reserve, retired, and veterans of the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard, plus their families and survivors. FRA’s legislative agenda is as follows:
Expand Health Care Options
Health Care Reform – Monitor health care reform and ensure that TRICARE and VA health care programs are not adversely impacted by unanticipated consequences during implementation.
Oppose Excessive TRICARE Enrollment Fee Increases – The Defense Department must sufficiently investigate and implement other options to make TRICARE more cost-efficient as alternatives to shifting costs to TRICARE beneficiaries, and the Association opposes any indexing of future TRICARE fee increases beyond CPI-indexed COLA increases.
Support Adequate Funding for the Defense Health Program – Ensure adequate funding for the Military Health Service (MHS) in order to meet readiness needs, fully fund TRICARE, and improve access and awareness of benefits for all beneficiaries regardless of age, status or location, including reservists participating in TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve, and Individual Ready Reserve personnel.
Make Doc Fix Permanent – Advocate for a permanent resolution of the statutory funding formula for Medicare/TRICARE physician reimbursement rates (“Doc Fix”) to ensure that TRICARE and Medicare patients have access to quality health care services.
DOD/VA Health Care Resource Sharing – Ensure adequate funding for Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) health care resource sharing in delivering seamless, cost effective, quality services to personnel wounded in combat and other veterans, and their families.
Pharmaceutical Drug Benefit – Monitor the pharmacy benefit and ensure that pharmacies maintain a broad uniform formulary. FRA supports efforts to reduce prescription costs through “federal pricing” and other discount programs, and will encourage increased utilization of home delivery prescriptions to limit co-pays for beneficiaries and reduce costs as alternatives to higher fees and co-payments.
Allow Military Retirees to Pay for Healthcare with Pretax Dollars – Secure authorization for military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and allow for a tax deduction for TRICARE supplemental insurance premiums.
Protect Personnel Programs
Active Duty Pay – Secure additional annual active duty pay increases that are at least equal to the Employment Cost Index (ECI).
Ensure Early Retirement Benefits for Involuntarily Separated Personnel – Early retirement and other benefits must be authorized for service members involuntarily separated with less than 20 years of service – including the temporary early retirement authority (TERA) program to minimize the impact of end strength reductions on career personnel.
Defense Budget – Advocate for a Defense (DoD) Budget that is at least five (5) percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to ensure adequate funding for both personnel and weapons programs.
Military Retail System – Oppose privatization and ensure adequate funding for the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to preserve the value of the current benefit and access for all patrons, and oppose consolidation of military exchanges based on results of costly past studies on this concept and opposition from the services.
End Strengths – Track active duty and reserve end strengths to ensure there are adequate personnel available to meet operational requirements, and work to minimize expanding deployment periods and reduced dwell times.
BAH – Reform enlisted housing standards by allowing E-7s and above to reside in separate homes, track the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to ensure it is commensurate with actual housing costs, ensure adequate housing inventory and that housing privatization programs are beneficial to service members and their families.
PCS Reform – Track the PCS process; ensure adequate funding of the Transition and Relocation Assistance Programs, and authorization of increased PCS mileage rates and higher household goods weight limits for senior enlisted personnel. Also advocate for shipment of a second POV for accompanied overseas assignments.
SCRA Enforcement / Predatory Lending Protections – Ensure that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is enforced by regulatory agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Office of Military Affairs and work to ensure that active duty personnel are protected from predatory lenders.
Coast Guard Parity – Ensure funding parity with DoD of pay, benefits and housing for Coast Guard personnel plus adequate resources for same within the U.S. Coast Guard budget.
Impact Aid Program – Ensure that the Department of Education has adequate funding to reimburse local school districts for educating military children and that the DoD budget includes sufficient supplemental funds to provide support for highly impacted school districts.
Reservists' Out-of-Pocket Expenses – Allow full tax-deductibility of non-reimbursable expenses related to military training and weekend drill.
Sea Services Recruiters – Work to ensure that recruiters have unrestricted access to secondary schools, colleges and universities on the same basis as private sector employers.
Improve Department of Veterans' Affairs Funding – Support initiatives to help ensure adequate funding for the VA, with special attention for VA health care to ensure access and care for all beneficiaries.
Support Blue Water Navy Agent Orange Disability Claims – Seek to reverse the VA’s policy that prevents “blue water” military retirees and veterans from claiming disability benefits for diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Oppose Access Fees – Oppose establishing a tiered enrollment fee structure for veterans in Priority Groups 7 and 8 within the VA Health Care System.
Improve VA Claim Processing – Work to eliminate backlog of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs and support reform of the antiquated Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) paper claims system.
Education Enhancements – Monitor the Post-9/11 GI Bill program and work to improve other education benefit programs for veterans, and survivors of disabled or deceased veterans, and also monitor new Transition Assistance Program (TAP) curriculum to ensure relevance to transitioning service members.
Reserve Retirees' Veteran Status – Seek full veteran status for reservists with 20 or more years of service, who do not otherwise qualify for full veteran's benefits under current law.
Safeguard Retiree Benefits
Expand Military Retiree Access to the VA Health Care System – Improve accessibility of VA health care for military retirees.
Protect Military Retired or Retainer Pay – Fight efforts to reduce military retired or retainer pay and ensure equitable cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for all military retirees commensurate with their service and sacrifices, and oppose efforts to civilianize the military retirement system. Advocate for rounding up to the next dollar for retired pay and other benefits.
Concurrent Receipt – Support legislation authorizing the immediate concurrent receipt of full military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation for all disabled retirees.
Reserve Retirement Age – Support extension of authority for early retirement (90 days active duty = three months reduction) for all reservists who have served since 9/11/01, and the elimination of fiscal year specific rule associated with same.
USFSPA – Encourage the introduction and enactment of legislation to eliminate inequities in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).
Retention of Final Month’s Retired Pay – Support legislation authorizing the retention of the full final month’s retired pay by the surviving spouse (or other designated survivor) for the month in which the member was alive for at least 24 hours.
SBP/DIC Offset – Support legislation to repeal the Survivors Benefit Plan/Dependency Indemnity Compensation (SBP/DIC) offset for surviving spouses of personnel who die of service-connected causes.
Paid-Up SBP at Age 67 – Work to change the minimum age for paid-up SBP from 70 to 67, which will allow those who joined the military at age 17, 18 or 19 and served 20 years to only be required to pay SBP premiums for 30 years.
Base Closures – Closely monitor the impact of base closures and realignments and support retention of military treatment and other facilities at BRAC sites that are patronized by sizeable retiree and Reserve populations.