FRA's 2023-2024 Legislative Agenda
FRA will fight to preserve and enhance benefits and quality-of-life programs for active, reserve, retired, and veterans of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard plus their families and survivors. FRA’s 2024 legislative agenda is as follows:
EXPAND HEALTH CARE OPTIONS
Oppose Excessive TRICARE 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 to COLA increases.
Repeal Scheduled Pharmacy and Therapy Co-pay Increases – The FY 2017 NDAA mandates pharmacy and therapy increases every year until 2027. FRA will work to repeal these arbitrary increases.
Support Adequate Funding for Defense Health Agency – Ensure adequate funding and staffing for the Defense Health Agency (DHA) 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.
– Ensure adequate funding for Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) health care resource sharing and interoperability of both departments electronic health records (EHR) in delivering seamless, cost effective, quality services to personnel wounded in combat and other veterans and their families.
– 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.
MHS Reliance on Overseas Drug Manufacturing -Raise awareness of risks to national security and TRICARE beneficiaries access to essential medications related to Military Health System (MHS) use of overseas pharmaceutical manufacturing.
PROTECT PERSONNEL PROGRAMS
– Secure annual active duty pay increases that are at least equal to the Employment Cost Index (ECI) to at least keep pace with the private sector pay.
– Oppose cuts to Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payments and restore BAH to 100 percent of housing costs. 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.
Reinstate those Discharged for Refusing to take the Vaccine – Support reinstatement for those active duty discharged from the military for refusing to take the vaccine.
Support Active-Duty Safe Housing – Work to ensure service members and their families have safe, quality homes and communities. Increase the accountability of privatized housing companies by putting more oversight authority in the hands of local military leaders.
Financial Literacy Training -Support the requirement for uniformed services to provide financial literacy training for both the service member and spouse.
Extend and Increase Government Match for TSP – Extend the government match for the Thrift Savings Plan beyond the current 26 years of service to until retirement and increase the maximum government matching contribution.
Eliminate Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment – Work to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.
Military Resale System – Ensure adequate funding for the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) and oppose privatization to preserve the value of the current benefit and access for all patrons and oppose consolidation or closure of military exchanges.
– 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.
– 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. Make mandatory arbitration agreements in financial contracts unenforceable.
USERRA Enforcement -Work to eliminate discrimination against uniformed service members in employment by ensuring enforcement of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
– Ensure funding parity with DoD on pay, benefits and housing for Coast Guard personnel plus adequate resources for same within the U.S. Coast Guard budget.
– Ensure that the Department of Education has adequate funding to reimburse local school districts for educating military children and that the DoD budget includes enough supplemental funds to provide support for highly impacted school districts.
School Choice for Military Families – Allow military families the option to use public funds to send their children to a private school or pay for other education services.
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.
Child Care Affordability and Accessibility – Work to ensure adequate resources for Child Development Centers on military installations.
Create a Second National Cemetery - Support creating a second national cemetery, perhaps on the west coast, in lieu of additional burial restrictions that would afford full military honors.
Monitor Implementation of VA MISSION Act Program- Monitor implementation of the VA Caregiver Program (MISSION Act) and support improvements to ensure veterans have timely access to medical care.
No VA Claim Pending over 125 days- Congress should pass legislation that requires VA be held accountable for achieving the VA Secretary’s stated goal to achieve no claim is pending over 125 days and all claims have an accuracy rate of 98 percent or higher.
Care for Veterans with Toxic Exposure - Ensure that the PACT Act is implemented effectively.
VA Dental Care - Support and expand the Department of Veterans Affairs pilot program to increase veteran access to dental care.
Improve Department of Veterans’ Affairs Funding – Support initiatives to help ensure adequate funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), with special attention for VA health care to ensure access and care for all beneficiaries.
Improve Department of Veterans’ Affairs Suicide Prevention Program – Support improvements and monitor implementation of VA and DoD suicide prevention programs to reduce the rate of suicide among veterans and active-duty service members.
– 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, preserve the military Tuition Assistance (TA) program and oppose shifting significant part of the cost to active-duty beneficiaries.
CHAMPVA – Extend coverage for eligible children of veteran’s families until age 26 under CHAMPVA.
Strengthen Veterans’ Hiring Preference - Oppose legislation restricting veterans’ preference hiring law.
Women Veterans Health Care – Work to increase access to gender-specific medical and mental health care to meet unique needs of women service members and women veterans.
Veterans Homelessness- The VA and other government agencies should enhance and invest in efforts to ensure that veteran’s homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring.
POW/MIA Accountability – Work to ensure that the DoD makes every effort for a complete accounting of all Prisoners of War and Missing in Action service members for past and current conflicts.
SAFEGUARD RETIREE BENEFITS
Protect – Fight efforts to reduce military retired 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. And advocate for rounding up to the next dollar for retired pay and other benefits.
– Support legislation authorizing the immediate payment of concurrent receipt of full military retired pay and veterans’ disability compensation for all disabled retirees.
Require Inspection of Armed Forces Retirement Home - Require periodic inspections of Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) facilities by nationally recognized accrediting organization to ensure safe and healthy living conditions for AFRH residents.
Eliminate DFAS Backlog on Reserve Component Retirement Pay – Support additional oversight of the Armed Services Committees to ensure the services and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to do whatever is necessary to review and improve the process for a timelier completion of retirement pay for Reserve Component retirees.
– Encourage the introduction and enactment of legislation to eliminate inequities in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).
– 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.
Repeal 180-day Delay for Retirees - Support repealing the 180-day delay for retirees applying for Defense Department civilian positions GS-13 and below.
– 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.
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All issues that do not fit one of the above categories