Legislative Update 6 November 2015: Pay, Retirement, Pharmacy Changes Moving

We have No Action Items today.



Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see PAY, RETIREMENT, PHARMACY CHANGES MOVINGHouse approves defense bill, Budget deal clears the way. (See Issue 1 below for the details. GF)

At Issue 2 we see PRICED OUT OF TRICARE? Beneficiaries shoulder hikes as costs exceed estimates. 2016 TRICARE Young Adult premiums up 47 percent. (See Issue 2 below for the details. GF) 

At Issue 3. we see MOAA IS GAINING A NEW LEADERChange to occur in January. Board approves Lt Gen Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret.).(See Issue 3 below for the details. GF) 

At Issue 4. we see SURVEY: FAMILY READINESS STILL A STRUGGLEDespite improvements, spouses still face employment challenges. A new survey highlights stressors for military families.. (See Issue 4 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





November 6, 2015

On Thursday, the House passed a new FY16 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Armed Services Committee leaders amended the defense bill after the president vetoed the original version over budget and other issues.

This is the bill that includes reduced housing allowances and pay raises for the troops, a reduced retirement system for new service entrants starting in 2018, and $2 to $4 increases for most prescription copays next year (the copay for mail-order generic drugs will stay at zero).

Congress and the White House resolved their fiscal differences in the budget deal signed into law this past Monday. But the budget agreement cut $5B from the FY16 defense budget.

In deciding what to cut in order to trim $5B, lawmakers spared personnel and benefit programs. Over $1B in savings came from reduced fuel prices, $250M from Army readiness, $192M from Army National Guard readiness, $230M from the Long Range Strike Bomber, and another $125M from the program to train and equip Syrian rebels.

“So what we have before us now is the same bill…with funding adjustments to reflect the [budget] bill we passed last week,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Thornberry. “Otherwise, it’s the same bill.”

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass promptly.

Although there is some grumbling from the White House regarding its provisions on the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, most expect the president will sign it into law.


November 6, 2015

TRICARE Young Adult (TYA) beneficiaries will see a steep rise in their premiums next year.

TRICARE provides coverage for dependents of active duty servicemembers and retirees up to age 21 (or 23 for full-time students). After that, TYA allows qualified adult children to purchase TRICARE coverage until age 26, consistent with other civilian health plans.

Beginning Jan. 1, premiums are increasing to $306 monthly for TYA Prime and $228 monthly for TYA Standard.


Why are costs spiking 26 to 47 percent?

The TYA program is required to charge its young adult beneficiaries premiums that cover the full government cost of coverage.

DoD originally had to rely on estimates when establishing premium costs. Now that the program has been up and running, it has several years of actual costs to set premiums based on real health care usage.

The cost of the TYA program is spread over a small beneficiary group of approximately 45,000 enrollees.

This is the big difference between the military TYA program and other civilian insurance programs that cover young adults. Most civilian plans spread their young adult costs over their entire enrolled population, so every insured person, regardless of age, pays a small amount more.

MOAA questions the affordability of this benefit for military families, especially those with more than one child in this age range, and is looking into possible solutions to lower this cost.

Issue 3. MOAA Names Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins as New President and CEO



Alexandria, Va. -The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) today announced its board of directors has unanimously selected retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, a distinguished military officer and seasoned private-sector business leader, as its new president and chief executive officer. The appointment is effective as of Jan. 4, 2016.     (Click onMilitary Officers Association of America (MOAA) here or above for more detail.  GF)

Atkins will succeed retired Navy Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan, who has led the association since 2002 and announced his retirement earlier in 2015.

In his new role at MOAA, Atkins will lead the more than 390,000 members of the nation’s largest military service organization and fourth-largest veterans service organization in its advocacy mission on behalf of the entire uniformed services community.

Atkins has been the president of Chronicle Media, a large communications company providing print and digital media products in the Augusta, Ga., metro area, since his 2012 retirement from the Air Force.

“We are delighted to have someone with Lieutenant General Atkins’ stature, leadership ability and business experience to assume the president and CEO position,” said retired Air Force Gen. Tony Robertson, chairman of MOAA’s board of directors. He continued, “A strong, top-quality career force requires compensation and a benefits package that is commensurate with the extraordinary demands and sacrifices imposed upon it. Dana brings a proven track record of strategic military and corporate leadership that makes him the absolute right choice to lead MOAA and our advocacy efforts into the future.”

At the time of his retirement from the Air Force, Atkins, a Portland, Ore., native, served as the commander of Alaskan Command, Alaska NORAD Region, Joint Task Force Alaska and 11thAir Force at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

During his career in the Air Force, Atkins served as a command pilot with more than 4,000 hours in fighter aircraft, as vice commander of the 7th Air Force and U.S. Air Force Korea, as director of operations (J3) U.S. Pacific Command and as special assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe during the air war over Serbia. During his career, he flew as a demonstration pilot for both the European A-10 demonstration team and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Atkins earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Portland. He also holds two master’s degrees, one in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and another in national security strategy from the National War College.

“I am honored by the confidence expressed in me by the MOAA board and to have the opportunity to continue serving the uniformed services, veterans and retirees and their families and surviving spouses,” said Atkins. “I look forward to working with the MOAA team and its partners in a time of great challenges. I see this opportunity as a natural intersection where my experience and passion can best serve the membership of MOAA.”

Atkins has taken an active role in his community, serving on the boards of directors for Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) Alliance for Fort Gordon, United Way of CSRA, University Health Care System, American Red Cross of Augusta and Augusta Warrior Project and on the developmental board for the Air Force Enlisted Village.

He and his wife, Laura, were the 2004 recipients of the General and Mrs. Jerome F. O’Malley Award, which recognizes the wing commander and spouse whose contributions to the nation, the Air Force and the local community best exemplify the highest ideals and positive leadership of a military couple. Atkins and his wife have two children, a son who served in the Air Force and is currently a student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a daughter who earned her doctorate in education and teaches in Washington state.



Nov 06 2015

Last week, Blue Star Families (BSF) released their 2015 Military Family Lifestyle Survey. They received over 6000 responses from active duty servicemembers, family members, retirees, and veterans.

The survey asked for respondents’ views of service, benefits, transition, mental health and permanent change of station (PCS).

The survey results on military spouse employment challenges echo the data MOAA found in our 2014 Military Spouse Survey on Employment with Syracuse University.

Spouses continue to face unemployment due to poor labor market alignment, demands of unpredictable schedules, and demands for their servicemember spouse, as well as difficulty finding reliable childcare.

Approximately half of military spouses seeking employment require a license or certification to work, and have found it difficult to maneuver into new jobs after a PCS to another state because each state has its own requirements. Military spouses continue to find “work around” jobs to remain employed, causing them to lose income and promotion opportunities.

These challenges affect the overall wellbeing and readiness of our military families. Military spouse employment has a positive impact on financial readiness, mental health, and long-term family stability. While many programs have either been created or made more robust by research into military families, we have more work to do.

MOAA supports legislative efforts to offset the costs of repeated licensing and testing after PCS, reduce barriers to employment because of licensure requirements, and provide more options for success in education and employment.

Military families serve too, and they need better support in meeting the demands of our country.




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