NewsBytes January 24, 2020

In this issue:
Marine Awards Program
Some Drugs Not Covered
Coast Guard Museum Delayed
Last Call for 2020 FRA Survey 

FRA Participates in Marine Combined Awards Program
For the past 20 years, the FRA has recognized top Marine Corps enlisted personnel by participating in the Combined Awards Program ceremonies, held at Quantico MCB in Virginia. Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David H. Berger and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps, Troy Black participated in this annual ceremony. The Commandant noted that the awardees exemplify the character and dedication to duty that are widely acknowledged as hallmarks of the Marine Corps. Winners of the 2019 awards are as follows: 

Recruiter of the Year
Staff Sergeant Devin J. Birk; 8th Marine Corps District, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

SNCOIC Recruiter of the Year
Gunnery Sergeant Monty V. Dupree Ayala; 8th Marine Corps District, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

Prior Service Recruiter of the Year
Staff Sergeant John T. Jenkins; 4th Marine Corps District, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

Prior Service SNCOIC Recruiter of the Year
Gunnery Sergeant Michael Z. Brown; 4th Marine Corps District, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

Drill Instructor of the Year
Gunnery Sergeant Scott H. Prutch; MCRD Parris Island, Training Command.

Combat Instructor of the Year
Staff Sergeant Michael M. McAughey; School of Infantry West, Training Command.

Marine Security Guard of the Year
Staff Sergeant Alyssa M. Burke; Region 3, Marine Corps Embassy Security Group.

Career Planner of the Year
Staff Sergeant Cheyenne B. Brown; Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 2nd Marine Logistics Group.

SNCOIC Career Planner of the Year
Gunnery Sergeant Robin M. Storm; Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

Active Reserve Career Planner of the Year
Gunnery Sergeant Kristina M. Perieff; Marine Aircraft Group 41, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

Female Athlete of the Year
Captain Kate J. Herren; All-Marine Rugby Team, 12th Marine Corps District.

Male Athlete of the Year
Sergeant Raymond A. Bunker III; USMC Wrestling Team, Marine Corps Community Services.

Male Athlete of the Year
Staff Sergeant John W. Stefanowicz; USMC Wrestling Team, Marine Corps Community Services.

Unit High PFT/CFT
1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division Commanding Officer: Lieutenant Colonel Jason C. Armas and Command Sgt. Maj: Sergeant Major James L. Horr.

The FRA is one of the sponsors of the awards ceremony and Director, Legislative Programs John Davis gave each of the recipients an FRA coin, a two-year complementary membership and an award certificate from the FRA’s National President Donna M. Jansky. 

DHA Begins to Exclude Some Drugs from Coverage
The FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L.115-91, H.R.2810) that was signed into law Dec. 12, 2017, allows for the Defense Health Agency to identify drugs that provide little or no clinical effectiveness relative to available alternatives. The drugs can be partially or fully excluded from being covered by the TRICARE Pharmacy Benefit Program. Drugs excluded from coverage are referred to as Tier 4 on the prescription drug formulary list. 

The DHA believes that this will align the TRICARE Pharmacy Benefit Program with industry standards among commercial healthcare plans. The exclusion has the potential to save the Department of Defense $30 million per fiscal year. Previously, all prescriptions were categorized in one of three tiers – generic, brand name and non-formulary. Each having varying copay costs for beneficiaries.

The prescription drugs that DHA categorizes as Tier 4/non-covered and are excluded from coverage. These Tier 4 drugs are not available in pharmacies at military treatment facilities. They also are not available through the TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery Program.
Tier 4 drugs are only available at retail pharmacies and beneficiaries will have to pay the full price out-of-pocket. The costs for Tier 4 drugs do not apply to the annual TRICARE catastrophic cap. The FRA is working with other military organizations to ask the DHA to create an appeals process for drugs placed on the Tier 4/non-covered list. 

Coast Guard Museum Construction Delayed
Construction of the National Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut has been delayed, despite the fact that the National Coast Guard Museum Association has raised more than $56 million for the museum. The new museum will tell the story of the Coast Guard. At the same time, construction of the museum, which was supposed to start last year, has been pushed back due to two other big projects going on in the area.

The project, which has been years in the making, got a boost in late December when President Donald Trump signed a massive spending package that included another $5 million in federal funding for the museum. To date, federal contributions total $15 million out of an anticipated $30 million, private donations have topped $21 million and the state has bonded $20 million for the project. Museum officials are not publicly releasing an updated cost until a bid is issued for the construction work.

The FRA is supporting the United States Coast Guard Commemorative Coin Act (H.R.1257-S.509) that has been introduced in the House and Senate. The act is sponsored by Rep. Joe Courtney (Conn.) and Sen. Mike Murphy (Conn). This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue in commemoration of the U.S. Coast Guard $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins and half-dollar clad coins. The design of each coin shall represent the traditions, history and heritage of the Coast Guard and its role in securing the United States since 1790. The issuance of the coins is restricted to a one-year period. Proceeds from the coin shall be paid to the National Coast Guard Museum Association to help finance the design, construction, operations and maintenance of the museum.

This bill honors the men and women of the Coast Guard and supports the establishment of the National Coast Guard Museum. Despite its significant role in our national defense, the U.S. Coast Guard is the only uniformed service without a national museum to showcase its 229-year history. Legislation was passed authorizing the museum to be located in New London, Connecticut. FRA members are urged to use the Action Center to urge their legislators to pass this important legislation. 

Last Call for FRA’s 2020 Survey on Military and Veteran Benefits
Your thoughts and concerns are important to the FRA’s Legislative Team! As part of our mission to fight for the concerns of enlisted personnel on Capitol Hill, the FRA is conducting an online survey to determine which military and veterans’ benefits are most important to active duty and Reserve personnel, retirees, veterans and their families. The brief survey will be available for a few more days. Members can participate by going to the 2020 Legislative Priorities survey.

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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