October 6 2017

In this issue:
2017 FRA National Convention Wrap Up
DoD Interim Rule for TRICARE Select 
President Signs VA Authorization Bill into Law

2017 FRA National Convention Wrap Up
The FRA Annual Convention elections were held on September 20, followed by the installation of the officers and board. Here are your new FRA officers and board:

National President William E. Starkey, South Jersey Branch 57

National Vice President Robert Washington, Navy Department Branch 181

National Executive Director Thomas J. Snee, Navy Department Branch 181

Jr. Past National President Donald E. Larson, Corpus Christi Branch 94

RP North East/New England Alvin Davenport, Atlantic City Branch 013

RP East Coast Paul A. Phelps, Chesapeake Branch 40

RP Southeast James J. Thomas, West Jacksonville Branch 126

RP North Central Rosemary Posekany, Wolverine Branch 298

RP South Central Bruce R. Talbot, Jr., Space City Branch 159

RP Southwest Bruce H. Davis II, Poway Valley Branch 70

RP West Coast Maria A. Behm, Stockton California Branch 113

RP Northwest Roger L. Christopher, Gem State Branch 382

National Chaplain John W. Davis, Tennessee Valley Branch 44

Finance Officer, Bryan Proctor

National Parliamentarian George P. Hyland, Groton Branch 20

The LA FRA results were: National Vice President is Christina Murray, former National Financial Secretary. The National Financial Secretary is Pat Suckow, Past Regional President.  Jean Smith, former National Vice President is now National President. 

There were five very prominent speakers at the convention-an FRA first. Ken Canestrini, Acting Deputy Director for Health Plan at the Defense Health Agency TRICARE Health Plan (DHA); Maryland's Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford; Master Chief Jeffery D. Patton, Command Master Chief, Deputy Commandant for Operations (DCO) U.S.C.G.; Thomas C. Owens Special Assistant to the Director of the Defense Commissary Agency and Brooks Tucker, Assistant Secretary for the Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs (OCLA).

Next year's convention will be held September 23-30, in San Antonio Texas.

DoD Interim Rule for TRICARE Select 
The Department of Defense (DoD) has released an interim rule implementing TRICARE Select, changes mandated by last year's (FY2017) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-S. 2943, Public Law 114-328). These changes impact 9.4 million beneficiaries. TRICARE Select, which was established by congress, incorporates TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra. "The rule also sets up an automatic enrollment process, so on January 1 beneficiaries in Prime will automatically be enrolled in Prime or automatically be enrolled in Select if they are enrolled in Standard or Extra," said Navy Vice Admiral  Raquel Bono, Director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA). She continued stating "The rule also sets up an automatic enrollment process, so on January 1, beneficiaries in Prime will automatically be enrolled in Prime or automatically be enrolled in Select if they are enrolled in Standard or Extra." 

The agency will establish an annual open-season enrollment period that beneficiaries can participate in each year to choose their health care plans. The open season will run much like the Federal Employee Health Benefit program works and will be held at the same time.

The interim rule also outlines the guidelines for qualifying "life events" that would allow beneficiaries to make necessary changes outside the open season. Qualifying life events trigger a 90-day opportunity to enroll in or change TRICARE purchased care coverage for the rest of the calendar year. These changes include marital status, births, adoptions, changes in service status and so on.

Bono said 2018 will be a transition year, "During that time, enrollment changes will be available throughout the year as beneficiaries adjust to the new process. We will also be broadening access for beneficiaries by setting out the requirements that at least 85 percent of our beneficiaries have access to network providers in TRICARE Select."

The agency will switch administration of the program from fiscal year to calendar year to streamline the combined changes mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act and the new contracts for beneficiaries.

Included in the rule for TRICARE Prime beneficiaries are new requirements for timely appointments and new access to care. Bono said, "For Select beneficiaries seeking care within our broader network, it offers access to no cost preventive services now available to Prime enrollees. The rule also means a conversion from the current cost share from a percentage to a fixed dollar amount," she said.

National Executive Director Thomas Snee and Legislative Program Healthcare Advisor Bob Washington have attended numerous meetings with DHA to provide input and advice for implementing the changes mandated by the FY2017 NDAA

President Signs VA Authorization Bill into Law
President Trump recently signed into law (Public Law 115-62) the "The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act" (H.R.3819), sponsored by Representative Brian Mast (Fla.), that extended the authority of the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out numerous veterans programs that otherwise would have expired on October 1, 2017. The bipartisan bill passed the House and the Senate unanimously. These authorities include veterans' benefits, health care and homeless programs including nursing home care, support services for caregivers, transportation, child care assistance, adaptive sports programs and housing or home loan services.


NewsBytes is FRA's weekly legislative update. If you received this through a forward and would like to subscribe, please e-mail us  and include your name and contact information in the body of e-mail. If you are a member of FRA or LA FRA, please include your member number as well.

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