FRA's 2016 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
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
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.
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
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).
Portable TSP for Those Who Serve less than 20 years – Support initiatives that provide a “portable” Thrift Savings Plan (TSP-401 K type investment) with an employer contribution and a voluntary employee contribution for service members, who can take the benefit with them if they leave before 20-year vesting for defined benefit plan (retainer pay), as long as it is not paid for by reducing retainer pay those who serve 20 years or more.
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
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.
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 – Oppose cuts to Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payments. Reform enlisted housing standards by allowing E-7s and above to reside in separate homes, track 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
Reservists' Out-of-Pocket Expenses – Allow full tax-deductibility
of non-reimbursable expenses related to military training and weekend
Sea Services Recruiters – Work to ensure
that recruiters have unrestricted access to secondary schools,
colleges and universities on the same basis as private sector
Monitor Implementation of VA Choice Card Program – Monitor implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (VACAA), which provides a $10 billion fund to pay for non-VA care for veterans who live 40 or more miles from a VA facility or have been experiencing wait times for care of more than 30 days. VA has provided “Choice Cards” to veterans who were enrolled in VA health care as of August 1, 2014, and to recently discharged combat veterans who enroll within the five-year window of eligibility.
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
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
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
Expand VA Caregivers Act – Extend the VA Caregivers Act to full-time caregivers of catastrophically disabled veterans from conflicts before September 11, 2001.
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
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
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
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
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.
All issues that do not fit one of the above categories