NewsBytes November 20, 2020

In this issue:
NDAA Conference Committee Appointed
VBA Hosts Tele-Townhall 
TRICARE and FEDVIP Open Season/TRICARE Select Payment Plan
FRA NHQ Holiday Schedule


NDAA Conference Committee Appointed
The House and Senate have appointed a conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate version of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.639, S.4049), which is expected to fund more than $740 billion in spending on programs for the Department of Defense (DoD). FRA members are urged to use the FRA Action Center to let their elected officials know their concerns on such issues as:
  • Adding diseases to list of diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange herbicide;
  • Stopping scheduled cuts to military medical staff during the pandemic;
  • Waiving TRICARE Mail order co-pays during pandemic;
  • Stopping plan to exclude retirees and dependents from MTFs; and 
  • Supporting repeal of 180-day delay for retirees applying for DoD GS-13 and below.  
 
Once the final bill is agreed to by the conference committee, it will be sent to both chambers and if approved by the House and Senate it will be sent to President Trump to be signed into law or be vetoed. This can happen very quickly once there is an agreement. So now is the time to use the links above to weigh in on these critical issues.




VBA Hosts Tele-Townhall 
FRA staff ADVP Noelle Huffer and ADLP Theo Lawson attended the Veteran Benefits Administration’s (VBA) nationwide tele-town hall meeting. The town hall was hosted by VA Under Secretary of Benefits Dr. Paul Lawrence and Deputy Executive Director, Compensation Service at VA Laurine Carson. The meeting focused on compensation, education and home loan benefits. Veterans and their families were encouraged to call in to get expert help with their issues. Carson and Lawrence answered many questions and promised to follow-up with callers who had more difficult situations.


TRICARE and FEDVIP Open Season/TRICARE Select Payment Plan
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) wants beneficiaries to know that TRICARE Open Season is underway. Beneficiaries can make changes to their healthcare coverage, as well as dental and vision coverage, with the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) before Open Season ends on Dec. 14, 2020. Each Fall, TRICARE Open Season allows beneficiaries to enroll in or change their TRICARE Prime option, including US Family Health Plan or TRICARE Select plan, for the upcoming year. Beneficiaries can also learn the differences between TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select by going online.  https://www.tricare.mil/publications.  Beneficiaries do NOT have to re-enroll if they want to stay in their current health plan. Beneficiaries will continue in their current health plan through 2021 or as long as they are eligible. 

Most Group A retirees (TRICARE Select beneficiaries whose initial enlistment occurred before Jan. 1, 2018) must set up payment for a new monthly fee to keep their TRICARE Select coverage. According to DHA officials, only 14 percent of households currently using TRICARE Select have set up a process for paying their program fees. Payment can be made by military allotment, electronic funds transfer, debit or credit card. TRICARE Select beneficiaries wanting to set up their monthly payment fee should go online. The fees go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
 
 Also taking place now through December 14 is the Federal Benefits Open Season.  https://www.benefeds.com/. If a beneficiary is eligible for dental or vision coverage (FEDVIP), they can enroll in a plan. Most TRICARE-For-Life, TRICARE Prime, and TRICARE Select beneficiaries are eligible for FEDVIP. If they are already enrolled in a FEDVIP dental or vision plan and they do NOT want to make any changes, their enrollment will automatically continue in 2021. To compare FEDVIP plans and costs, you can go online



FRA NHQ Holiday Schedule
The FRA NHQ will close at noon Wednesday, November 25th, and all-day Thursday and Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving Day Holiday.  There will be no NewsBytes next week due to Congress being on recess for Holiday. The next issue of NewsBytes will be sent out Dec. 4, 2020.  The FRA staff wish all the Shipmates and Unit members a happy and safe Thanksgiving Day.

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