*Legislative Update 31 July 2015: Congress Leaves Without Defense Bill

We have 1 Action Item today at Issue  2 below



Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see HOUSE LEAVES TOWN WITHOUT PASSING DEFENSE BILL . Lawmakers skip town as negotiations sour. House and Senate clash over TRICARE fees and commissary funding.

See Issue 1 below for the details. GF)


At Issue 2. we see TRICARE FUNDING AT RISK. DoD scrambles as TRICARE funding runs out. Deadline looms as funding nears exhaustion.

(See Issue 2 below for the details and to send messages to your Legislators. GF)

At Issue 3. we see YOUR FEEDBACK IS NEEDEDNew survey seeks input on TRICARE’s Mail Order Pharmacy Policy. Will you act in time?

(Click on YOUR FEEDBACK IS NEEDED here or above to participate in the survey. GF)

At Issue 4. we see TWO BIG NAMES ARE COMING TO MOAAMOAA is the leading voice on military mental wellness

Join VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Johnny Isakson at MOAA’s Warrior-Family Symposium.

(Click on TWO BIG NAMES ARE COMING TO MOAA here or above  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




July 31, 2015

Despite early optimism from lawmakers, Congress was unable to pass a final defense bill before leaving town for a month long summer recess.

Stuck in a stalemate over several key compensation and benefits issues, House and Senate lawmakers will have to return to the negotiation process in September.

The following table shows the compensation and benefits positions of the House- and Senate-passed defense bills:


In its initial draft, House lawmakers rejected proposals to nickel and dime servicemembers and their families, but the Senate is pushing to keep them in the final version of the defense bill.

In a reported memo to negotiators, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said, “The House believes it must keep faith with our military retirees and their families and that we should seek to make other improvements in TRICARE before digging more deeply into the pockets of our servicemembers and retirees.”

Senate lawmakers argue that personnel costs are “eating the defense budget alive,” a tired piece of rhetoric MOAA has repeatedly debunked.

The silver lining to Congress failing to pass the defense bill before the August recess is that now you have the chance to influence your lawmakers.

Most elected officials return to their home districts to meet with constituents during the August recess. Use this opportunity to visit your elected officials and discuss:

  • Preventing the further erosion of pay and benefits;
  • Authorizing full concurrent receipt of military retired pay and disability compensation; and
  • Eliminating the dollar for dollar offset of military survivor pay and VA indemnity compensation.

MOAA has developed fact sheets on these three issues for you to use. For more information, check out our August recess package.

(Click on  August recess package here or above for the details. GF)


Issue 2. ARMY 

July 31, 2015

Move over VA.

Weeks after the VA asked Congress for a bailout, DoD has come forward with its own $2 billion budget crisis. Without help, DoD could run out of health care funding for outside treatment. (Click on  (Click on  the VA asked Congress for a bailout here or above for the details. GF)

However, unlike the VA, DoD is not only looking at Congress to bail them out, but for beneficiaries to take on even more costs.

DoD was forced to request additional funding to cover a budget shortfall due to the rising costs of compound medications. DoD revised its compound medication policy in May to curb costs, but the budget shortfall remains.

In its request, DoD says that it is trying to control costs, pointing to its payment reform initiatives. Missing from the narrative, however, are the beneficiary initiatives that have resulted in significant cost savings.

Over the last several years, TRICARE beneficiaries have been forced to accept several health care fee increases and policy changes. Specifically, annual pharmacy copay increases and mandated use of the mail-order pharmacy system for maintenance medications are two initiatives beneficiaries shoulder.

By using the home delivery program and paying more for prescriptions, TRICARE for Life beneficiaries have significantly contributed to 80 percent of the cost savings that the Defense Health Agency has claimed this past year.

Coincidentally, DoD’s request comes as Congress once again wrestles with raising TRICARE copays.

The request only serves to embolden those in Congress who want to shift costs onto servicemembers, retirees, and their families.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon proposed tripling pharmacy copays in its FY16 budget request. House lawmakers rejected the proposal, but the Senate continues to push for the fee increases.

“DoD is long overdue for a serious look at its internal structure and needs to get its budget in control before asking beneficiaries to bail them out,” said MOAA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations, Capt. Kathy Beasley, USN (Ret).

Act now to send your legislators a MOAA-suggested message  asking them to resist these shortsighted, budget-driven cuts to military pay, health care and 

 (Click on MOAA-suggested message here or above or go to Here is the Process: at the end of this Email to send messages to your Legislators. GF)


Here is the Process:  If the steps below are new to some, I recommend that you review all of the steps and then you might want to copy this process by high lighting all of the steps below.  Then click on “File” at the top of your screen, select “Print“, then click on “Selection” at the next display and then hit “Print“; or print the selected portion as you usually do this kind of task.


  1. Click here onhttp://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/ or copy and paste it in your browser to put you at the  “Legislative Action Center” screen.
  2. Scroll downunder “Current Action Alerts” and click on Reject Military Pay and Benefits Cuts
  3. At the next screen enter your Zip code if requested and/orhit “Go!” and/or scroll down to “Take Action”  and at “Compose Message” leave ‘Email‘ checked or check ‘Printed Letter‘  to send  Printed Letters instead of sending Emails if desired .
  4. If an  “Issue Area:”line appears just before the Editable Text: and doesn’t have an issue shown, click on the down arrow and select an issue; e. g., Military, Veterans Affairs, etc. (usually required on messages to our Senators)
  5. Scroll down to the  “Editable text” areaand edit/modify the text of the message if desired.
  6. Insert “Your Closing” (I show ‘Respectfully), and “Your Name” and fill in the rest of the mandatory {asterisked} SENDER INFORMATION. The “Phone”number is now required by some Legislators (it’s required if your Senator is from Arizona) .  Fill in the “Guest Type“, “Service“, “Rank“, “Component“, and “Status” if you want that information to show in your message (recommended).  You may be prompted to include a phone number if you try to send the message without entering your phone number. Don’t be concerned about entering a phone number. I haven’t  received return calls except on rare occasions to thank me for my interest in a particular piece of Legislation, at which time you can comment (pro or con) to the staff member on how the Senator stands on the issue.
  7. Check “Remember Me” (recommended) if you don’t want to have to re-enter all of your Sender Information the next time you send a message. You can always change your information or uncheck ‘Remember Me’ anytime in the future.
  8. Check ‘Yes‘ or ‘No‘ as to whether you want to have a copy of your letter sent to your Email Address (suggested at least for you initial efforts, and to see how your personal data is included in the message).
  9. Hit “Send Message”
  10. If Printed Letter was selected at Step 3 above, at the screen after hitting “Send Message” leave “Plain Paper Style” and “Word Processor (RTF)” checked unless you have another preference. Then left click on “Print Letter(s)” at the end of the “PRINT LETTER” screen. At the File Download” alert that appears next, click on “Open”. You can then edit and print or save the letter for editing, printing, signing and mailing.
  11. For Arizona residentsbecause of some current problems with contacting Sen Flake by Email,you will see after hitting “Send Message” at Step 9 above, that “Printed Letter” is the most readily observable option for getting your message to him. Step 10 above tells you how to do that..





That’s it for today- Thanks for your help!