We have NO Action Items today.
Summary of Issues
At Issue 1. we see VISIT YOUR LEGISLATORS IN AUGUST. During the month of August, most elected officials return to their home districts to meet with constituents.. This is a great opportunity for you to visit your elected officials’ offices and advise them of your and MOAA’s concerns on important matters. We need you help to influence the defense bill. Now is also a perfect opportunity to help make progress on remaining inequities for disabled retirees and surviving spouses. It’s imperative that we let our legislators know how we feel about these topics. (See Issue 1 below for the details. GF)
At Issue 2. we see FUNDING THREATENS VA CARE. Millions of veterans to lose access if Congress fails to act. VA funding shortfalls mean that millions of veterans may be at risk. (See Issue 2 below for the details. GF)
At Issue 3. we see OPM ADMITS MILITARY AFFECTED BY BREACH. 21.5 million records impacted by hack. OPM director resigns amid backlash. (See Issue 3 below for the details. GF)
Collectively We Can and Are Making a Difference
FOR ALL, Please feel free to pass these Weekly Legislative Updates on to your group of Veteran Friends –
don’t be concerned with possible duplications – if your friends are as concerned as we are with Veteran issues, they probably won’t mind getting this from two or more friendly sources
Issue 1. VISIT YOUR LEGISLATORS IN AUGUST
July 22, 2015
During the month of August, most elected officials return to their home districts to meet with constituents. This is a great opportunity for you as a MOAA member to visit your elected officials’ offices and advise them of your and MOAA’s concerns on important matters.
We need your help to influence the defense bill. Now is also a perfect opportunity to help make progress on remaining inequities for disabled retirees and surviving spouses. Congress needs to:
- Prevent further erosion of pay and benefits.
- Authorize full concurrent receipt of military retired pay and disability compensation.
- Eliminate the dollar for dollar offset of military survivor pay and VA indemnity compensation.
It’s imperative that we let our legislators know how we feel about these topics.
These aren’t just “defending our rice bowl” issues; they’re critical matters for sustaining retention and readiness – the core of our national defense – over the long term.
To assist you in preparing for these meetings, we’ve developed fact sheets and talking points on the three key issues listed above.
You don’t have to be an expert on every issue. That’s why we designed the packages as we have – to include a “key points” summary to talk from, along with one-page fact sheets on each issue that you can print and leave with the legislators and/or their staffs.
One of the reasons MOAA has been successful on Capitol Hill is that we have members who are willing to contact their legislators and express their views on issues that are important to them. Leaders who can say “We represent _____ MOAA members in our state” help convey that they’re speaking for a substantial group of constituents.
And the grassroots support of our members has never been as important as it is now.
You can use our website to find your legislators’ local offices.
One-Page Fact Sheets for Three Key Issues
- 1. Reject Military Pay and Benefits Cuts (PDF)
- 2. Support Full Concurrent Receipt(PDF)
- 3. Eliminate the Widow’s Tax (PDF)
Use this statistical summary (PDF) to highlight the number of people affected in your state.
(Click respectively on the five blue underlined topics above for the details. GF)
Issue 2. FUNDING THREATENS VA CARE
July 24, 2015
In a contentious hearing, lawmakers accused VA Secretary Bob McDonald of covering up information threatening the health care of millions of veterans.
McDonald said the department faces a $3 billion budget shortfall and, without congressional action, will have to deny access to health care to veterans.
“We’ll have no option at the end of July but to defer … authorizations until October, provide staff furlough notices, notify vendors we cannot pay them as we begin an orderly shutdown of hospitals and clinics all across the country,” said McDonald.
According to McDonald, the VA is struggling to meet the increased demand for health care provided under the Choice Act. The Choice Act allows some veterans to receive health care at non-VA facilities, paid for by the VA.
Passing of the Choice Act has driven up costs for delivering care outside the VA. The Choice Act, along with other community care programs, all have different authorities and budget lines. Currently, VA lacks the authority to move dollars between the programs.
That means that even though Congress has increased overall funding for VA health care, the money has only gone to specific accounts.
“You already appropriated funds to meet these needs, but you haven’t given me the flexibility and authority to use them,” said McDonald.
A victim of its own success, VA has been able to double its capacity in staffing, space, productivity, and delivering care over the past year. This hard work resulted in 7 million more appointments for veterans, 4.5 million of them from outside providers. But the VA estimates that for every one percent increase in veterans accessing health care, it spends $1.5 billion on health care delivery.
The revelation did not sit well with members of Congress.
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) chided McDonald for his “slow, painstaking revelation of the crisis” and the department’s financial woes, problems the VA first became aware of in April but failed to inform Congress of until early June.
The short-term solution is for Congress to give VA the budget flexibility to address the shortfalls to ensure continued care for veterans.
The long-term solution to VA’s budget problems is to consolidate and streamline all of the VA community care programs. Congress and the VA are working to simplify management of health care services.
MOAA joined with a number of other veterans’ organizations in writing asking committee leaders to resolve the VA’s budget crisis.
The Senate expects to take up the issue next week.
Issue 3. PROTECTING YOUR WALLET
July 24, 2015
President Obama announced new rules to protect servicemembers and their families from predatory lending practices.
The new protections will cover all forms of payday loans as well as other loans that target military members and their families: car title loans, refund anticipation loans, deposit advance loans, installment loans, unsecured open-end lines of credit and credit cards.
A DoD statement on the change said, “With this action, the department takes an important stand against companies that can prey on our men and women in uniform. This new rule addresses a range of credit products that previously escaped the scope of the regulation, compromising the financial success of our troops.”
MOAA worked with its partners in The Military Coalition to help pass the original Military Lending Act. The original law capped interest rates at 36 percent for a limited number of covered loans to active duty servicemembers and their families.
But payday lenders often found loopholes and other ways to skirt the law.
“Today’s rule change is a major victory for military families,” said Col. Mike Barron, USA (Ret.), MOAA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations. “There are more payday lenders in America than there are Starbucks and McDonalds. These institutions prey on vulnerable military families and put them in a cycle of debt.”
The new rule allows for industry compliance by October 1, followed by a staggered implementation period.
For more financial tips and information from MOAA, check out our Financial Frontlines blog.
(Click on Financial Frontlines blog here or above to see the details. GF)
That’s it for today- Thanks for your help!