NewsBytes November 18, 2022    

In this issue:
Senate Delays NDAA
Toxic Exposure Screening Starts
DHA Announces TRICARE Costs
Lifetime Pass to Recreation Sites
The FRA NHQ Holiday Schedule

Senate Delays NDAA
Legislators return to Capitol Hill this week to work on the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.7900, S.4543) and spending bills to fund the government. As a result of the election, the Republicans will have a narrow majority in the House. The Senate Democrats will remain in the majority in the Senate. Senate consideration of the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-H.R.7900, S.4543) has been delayed until December. Although behind the scenes negotiations are ongoing on NDAA provisions and spending levels. 

The House has already passed its version of the NDAA, and the Senate Armed Services Committee has approved the Senate version and is awaiting further action on the Senate floor. Once both chambers pass their version of the NDAA, a conference committee will be appointed to resolve the differences between the two bills and create a final bill that will be submitted to the House and Senate for a final vote. If approved in both chambers, the bill will be sent to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law or be vetoed. Members can weigh in on key issues impacting FRA members through the FRA Action Center with topics and links provided below.  

Forced arbitration.
Stop Medical billet cuts.
Concurrent receipt.

Veterans Toxic Exposure Screening Starts
As a result of the enactment of the comprehensive veteran’s toxic exposure act, (PACT Act) all patients visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facilities will undergo new toxic exposure screening. This new effort will look for signs of illness to better inform veterans that they may qualify for new benefits. The five-minute screening will involve a series of simple questions regarding veterans’ time in service, possible exposure to toxic substances and current health status. Veterans will undergo the screening during their first visit after Nov. 8, (regardless of the reason for the visit) but will not repeat the questions on follow-up appointments. Officials plan to conduct the screening for every patient once every five years.

DHA Announces TRICARE Costs for 2023
As required by law, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) recently announced TRICARE fees for 2023. Many fees are indexed to the retiree COLA increase, which will be 8.7 percent in 2023. Every year, TRICARE costs may change based on the law, the federal cost of living adjustment, changes in the cost of health care services and prescription drugs, and other factors. The FRA opposes any indexing of future TRICARE fee increases beyond CPI indexed to COLA increases. The FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act mandates pharmacy and therapy increases every year until 2027. The FRA is working to repeal these arbitrary increases.

Members can find their 2023 rates online.

Lifetime Pass to Federal Recreation Sites
Effective Nov. 11, 2022, veterans and Gold Star Families can obtain a free lifetime pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across more than 400 million acres of public land, including national parks, wildlife refuges and forests. For more information and how to obtain pass, go online.

The FRA NHQ Holiday Schedule
There will be no NewsBytes next week, due to Congress being in recess for the Thanksgiving Day Holiday. The next issue of NewsBytes will be sent out Dec. 2, 2022. The FRA national headquarters will be closed Thursday and Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving Day Holiday.

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.


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