October 27 2017
In this issue:
Oppose TRICARE Regulation that Increases Fees
VSO's Meet to Strategize on Agent Orange Blue Water Navy
HVAC Reviews VA Choice Program Improvements
Congress Tables CFPB Forced Arbitration Rule
Shipmate Presented Spirit of Hope Award
Oppose TRICARE Regulation That
The Department of Defense (DoD) continually tries to shift health care costs to
beneficiaries. DoD is now attempting to implement a regulation with higher cost
shares and a new fee structure for retirees younger than 65. These fee
increases were inserted into a draft regulation without any discussion or input
from beneficiary groups. Last year's Defense Authorization (NDAA) provided a
grandfather clause that excludes retirees who retired before January 1, 2018
from scheduled fee increases. This grandfather clause was intended to shield
current retirees from any fee increases. With the implementation of enacted
changes through the DoD's draft regulation, it will charge current retirees
more in co-pays. This recently released proposed regulation actually allows
lower co-pays for new retirees. Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center to ask
their legislators to oppose this proposed regulation intended to only implement
changes required by last year's NDAA.
VSO's Meet to Strategize on Agent Orange
Blue Water Navy
FRA staff Tom Snee, Chris Slawinski and Brian Condon along with other Veteran
Service Organizations (VSO's) recently met at the American Legion, Washington,
DC office to discuss efforts to enact the "Blue Water Navy Vietnam
Veterans Act." Staff members from the House Veterans Affairs Committee
(HVAC) also attended. The legislation has been introduced in both the House and
Senate (H.R.299 & S.422 respectively). HVAC Chairman Phil Roe (Tenn.) in
earlier meetings with FRA staff expressed an interest in moving the House bill
out of committee and onto the House floor for consideration by the full House.
These proposals would clarify that service members serving off the coast of the
Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam conflict have a presumption for filing
disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), for ailments
associated with exposure to the Agent Orange herbicide. FRA believes Congress
should recognize that the so-called "blue water" veterans were
exposed to Agent Orange and authorize presumptive status for VA disability
claims associated with this exposure.
Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center located on
the website to ask their legislators to support the "Blue Water Navy
Vietnam Veterans Act" (H.R. 299 & S. 422).
HVAC Reviews Improvements to VA Choice
The House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) began the process of reviewing,
debating and approving a draft proposal to make it easier for veterans who seek
medical care outside the VA health system (Veterans Health Administration-VHA).
The HVAC hearing provided a forum to discuss and review nine bills, including
legislation related to VA's community care programs. The legislation included
bills affecting how veterans are able to access life-saving transplant and
mental health care, and ways the VA is able to use telemedicine to treat
veterans in rural areas.
HVAC Chairman Phil Roe (Tenn.) thanked FRA and
other stakeholders for providing feedback on the draft legislation. A statement
was provided by FRA for the record, on many of the issues discussed at the
Congress Votes to Tables CFPB Financial
Institutions Forced Arbitration Rule
The Senate recently voted to table the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's
(CFPB) final rule on arbitration agreements and class-action lawsuits. The Vice
President had to vote in the Senate and broke the tie (50-50). Senators
Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John Kennedy (La.) broke from their party to vote
against the repeal. The House had voted in July to table the regulation. The
motion to table the rule was supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the
American Bankers Association and was opposed by consumer groups, FRA and other veteran/military
associations. In July, FRA signed onto The Military Coalition (TMC) letter of
support for CFPB's final rule. This proposed rule addresses the harm of forced
arbitration by preserving the ability of service members and other consumers to
band together to seek relief through the civil justice system when financial
institutions break the law.
Forced arbitration is a system where service
members' claims against a corporation are funneled into a rigged, secretive
system in which all the rules, including the choice of the arbitrator, are
picked by the corporation. Forced arbitration clauses also include a provision
banning the rights of consumers to ban together to hold a corporation
Our service members protect our nation against
both foreign and domestic threats. The sacrifices they and their families make
in order to serve are compelling reasons alone to ensure they are not only
shielded from predatory financial practices and unscrupulous lenders, but are
also able to use our civil justice system if and when violations
FRA will continue to ensure that the
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is enforced by regulatory agencies,
including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of
Military Affairs. The Association will work to make mandatory arbitration
agreements in financial contracts unenforceable, and will continue our efforts
to protect active duty personnel from predatory lenders.
FRA Shipmate Awarded for Community Service
Shipmate Jim Marshall of Wyoming Branch 59 received the Department of Defense,
"The Spirit of Hope" Award given at the Pentagon by GEN Paul J.
Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on behalf of the Secretary of
Defense. This award recognizes outstanding service to the United States of
America. It is awarded to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces,
entertainers, and other distinguished Americans and organizations whose
patriotism and service reflect that of Mr. Bob Hope. Bob Hope was designated as
the first honorary veteran by the United States Armed Forces for his decades of
entertaining the troops, both in peacetime and in combat zones.
Shipmate Marshall's many accomplishments "of
service" within his community gained him praise for his dedication to
service members. FRA is extremely proud at such honorable accomplishment and
NED Thomas J. Snee attended the presentation to express our support.
Congratulations Shipmate Marshall!
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