We have 1 Action Item today at Issue 1
Summary of Issues
At Issue 1. we see HELP MOAA STORM THE HILL. Now is the time to stand up and make your voice heard to reinforce MOAA’s efforts on Capitol Hill.. (See Issue 1 below for the details and send messages to our Legislators. GF)
At Issue 2. we see MOAA URGES COMMISSION TO PROTECT VETERANS HEALTH CARE. VA commission in final weeks of deliberation. MOAA asks commissioners to improve – not eliminate – veterans’ health system. (See Issue 2 below for the details. GF)
At Issue 3. we see ANOTHER ROUND OF BRAC? Defense officials testify on shortfalls in military installation accounts
At a congressional hearing, officials pushed lawmakers to authorize another round of base closures.. (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. HELP MOAA STORM THE HILL
Now is the time to stand up and make your voice heard to reinforce MOAA’s efforts on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday, April 13, more than 160 national, state, and local MOAA representatives will “Storm the Hill” to visit the offices of nearly every U.S. senator and representative.
They will be urging lawmakers to oppose disproportional TRICARE fee hikes and repeal the SBP-DIC “widows tax” that penalizes 63,000 military widows up to $15,000 a year.
There has never been a more important time to add your voice and deliver a barrage of emails to remind your legislators that MOAA’s Hill-Stormers are backed by thousands more of their constituents.
Let’s work together to ensure we don’t impose disproportional penalties on military families and survivors.
(Click on deliver a barrage of emails here or above to send messages to our Legislators.. At that “Legislative Action Center” link scroll down to the “Take Action” and “COMPOSE MESSAGE” screen where you can scroll down to further to the draft message for editing if desired and verify or insert your required personal information and enter you Zip code if it is not already shown. Then hit “Send Message”. GF)
April 8, 2016
A flurry of media reports hit the airwaves this week when veteran groups voiced concerns over a controversial proposal being considered by a special commission set up by Congress to look at how to deliver veterans’ health care.
The Commission on Care is tasked with examining access to VA health care and to examine strategically how best to organize the Veterans Health Administration for the next generation of veterans.
The “strawman” document calls for phasing out all VA health care treatment facilities over the next 20 years, and pushing all veterans, including those who are 100 percent disabled, into the private sector for medical care.
In a letter to commissioners, MOAA President Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret) stressed the need to preserve, but also improve, the VA health system.
(Click on a letter to commissioners here or above to see the letter. GF)
“We are concerned that migrating the current system to community-based services…would eliminate some of the best aspects of VA care, such as spinal and polytrauma care, and could produce unintended consequences, such as a reduction in benefits and/or negative health care outcomes.”
Instead, MOAA urged the Commission to consider incorporating VA Secretary Bob McDonald’s MyVA reform efforts, and plan for consolidating community care efforts.
MOAA also believes the Independent Budget’s (IB) veterans service organization concept, a Framework for Veterans Health Care Reform, should be seriously considered. The IB recommends moving away from arbitrary federal access standards towards a clinically-based decision made between a veteran (to include family and caregivers) and a health care professional, offering the potential for simplifying eligibility requirements and expanding access.
MOAA believes the IB provides an excellent framework for what a veterans’ health care system should look like.
MOAA will join other veteran and military service organizations to meet with the commissioners on April 18 to discuss in more detail the Commission’s work and potential recommendations for their final report.
The report is due out in June.
Issue 3. ANOTHER ROUND OF BRAC?
April 8, 2016
On Thursday, defense officials urged Congress to consider another round of base realignment and closures (BRAC).
Officials testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs on military facility and installation funding shortfalls.
Across the board, defense and services leaders voiced concerns over reduced funding and the challenges of keeping up with current environmental requirements.
The proposed $1 billion FY 2017 military construction budget is an 18-percent reduction from last year’s budget. The Army’s budget is at its lowest since 1993.
Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and the Environment, spoke frankly of the struggles in funding readiness with a reduced budget, stating, “The Army has decided to take strategic risks to fund installations so it can support soldier readiness.”
She said the Army has an excess of about 21 percent in infrastructure, which is expected to increase further with the force drawdown. With another round of BRAC, the Army believes it could save over $5 million annually to reinvest in training and troops.
The FY 2017 Navy’s budget of almost $12 billion is a 10-percent reduction from last year’s funding levels. The Navy warned of significant consequences and degradation of future military operations if funding continued at these levels.
The Air Force’s FY 2017 $8 billion budget is down 4-percent. The Air Force has placed military construction as a top priority, and 40 percent of the budget will go to chip away at a significant backlog for existing mission infrastructure.
“The bottom line for the Air Force, installations are too big, too old and too expensive to operate,” said Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations Environment and Energy Miranda A.A. Ballentine. “Twenty-four years of continuous combat and a fiscal environment constrained by the Budget Control Act have truly taken a toll on the service.”
The Air Force also urged another BRAC to address the 30-percent excess infrastructure capacity. Since the first Gulf War the service has reduced the number of combat-coded squadrons by nearly 60 percent. Meanwhile, stateside bases were only reduced by 15-percent during this period.
MOAA believes lifting sequestration directed by the Budget Control Act is the only way to fix current budget shortfalls. Further erosion of installation facilities not only hurts readiness, but ultimately degrades military and family morale and readiness.
That’s it for today- Thanks for your help over the years!