July 21 2017
In this issue:
SASC NDAA Has TRICARE Fee Increases and More
VA Gulf War Illness Program Reviewed by HVAC Subcommittees
House Passes DHS Authorization Bill
SASC Chairman Diagnosed With Brain Cancer
SASC NDAA Has TRICARE Fee Increases
The Senate Committee version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act
(NDAA) allows substantial TRICARE fee increases. This Senate bill (S.1519) has
been approved by Committee and will soon be considered by the full Senate. The
bill repeals the so-called grandfather clause that excluded retirees who
retired before the January 1, 2018 from scheduled TRICARE fee increases. The
bill also increases pharmacy co-pays and provides for a smaller active duty pay
increase (2.1% vice 2.4%) and makes further cuts to Basic Allowance for Housing
(BAH). Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center to ask
their Senators to oppose these provisions.
The House has already passed its version of the
FY2018 NDAA (H.R.2810) and once the Senate completes its work on its version of
the NDAA a conference committee will be appointed to resolve the differences
between the bills and create a final bill, if approved by both chambers it will
be sent to President Trump to be signed into law or vetoed.
VA Gulf War Illness Program Reviewed by
Two House Veterans Affairs Subcommittees held a joint hearing on the approval
rates of veterans seeking compensation due to Gulf War illness. The joint
hearing focused on the approval rates of veterans seeking compensation and the
training required for medical examiners and claims processers. Gulf War veterans
displaying symptoms of Gulf War illness continue to have their claims denied.
Many members of the HVAC subcommittees want the VA to improve the disability
claims process for this ailment. Many subcommittee members noted that the VA
has made little if any progress on the issue since a similar hearing held in
House Passes DHS Authorization Bill
For the first time since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) the House passed an annual authorization act for the entire DHS (H.R.2825).
This omnibus legislation includes authorization for the U.S. Coast Guard
FY2018 authorization bill (H.R.2518) and authorization for the other 21
agencies within DHS. The legislation authorizes an increase in Coast Guard end
strength from 42,000 to more than 47,000 for the next five years.
FRA supports the annual authorization legislation
for the Coast Guard to enable Congress to provide adequate oversight of the 11
Coast Guard statutory missions. Coast Guard parity with DoD personnel programs
remains a high priority for FRA. The association notes the Administration's
FY2018 budget request increased funding for the Navy and Marine Corps by nine
percent and provided no increase for the Coast Guard. The House Authorization
bill authorizes a 6.3 percent increase for the Coast Guard compared to FY2017
and 7.3 percent more than the FY2018 Administration's request. Members can use
the FRA Action Center to
ask their legislators to provide the same increase for the Coast Guard that was
provided to the Navy and Marine Corps.
SASC Chairman Diagnosed With Brain
Senator John McCain (Ariz), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,
recently had surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye. Subsequent
tissue pathology revealed that a brain tumor known as a glioblastoma, an
aggressive form of cancer, was linked to the blood clot. This is not the former
Navy pilot and Vietnam POW's first battle with cancer. In 2000 the former GOP
2008 Presidential nominee successfully eliminated melanoma from his left arm
and in 2002 eliminated melanoma from his nose. The 80-year-old Senator is
currently being treated at the Mayo Clinic. A recent statement announced
the doctors treating Senator McCain will decide when he can return to work.
Last year he was re-elected to his sixth consecutive term as Arizona's senior
Senator. In 2000, FRA awarded McCain the FRA Pinnacle Award for being the
outstanding legislator of the previous year. Despite the absence of the Chairman,
the Senate Armed Services Committee is continuing to function with Senator
James Inhofe (Okla.) as acting Chairman.
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