Legislative Update 4 December 2015: Update on Health Care and Promotion Reform

We have No Action Items today.


Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see MILITARY HEALTH CARE: WHAT’S WORKING, WHAT’S NOTMOAA President testifies before Congress.

(Click on MILITARY HEALTH CARE: WHAT’S WORKING, WHAT’S NOT here or above to see the details and then click on the red TESTIMONY Tab at the end of the article to read the oral testimony if desired GF)

At Issue 2. we see MOAA’S TRICARE REFORM SURVEY RESULTS  We asked and you answered, Over 30,000 people provided input on their military care experiences. (See Issue 2 below for the details. GF)


At Issue 3. we see OFFICER PROMOTIONS UNDER FIREScrutiny of “up or out” system. Congress examines defense reform, beginning with military promotions. (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






. (Click on MILITARY HEALTH CARE: WHAT’S WORKING, WHAT’S NOT here or above if you didn’t do so above to see the details on the MOAA President, Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, USN (Ret.), testimony before the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommitte this past week and access a copy of the oral testimony if desired. GF )


December 4, 2015

As part of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the House and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairmen included language indicating that they anticipate their committees will be undertaking a reform of military health care programs as part of next year’s defense bill.

The Chairmen expressed concern that most reform efforts to date have focused on raising beneficiary fees, and that while they believe increased fees will be on the table in their reform consideration, they also want to look at the whole system from top to bottom to sustain readiness, implement efficiencies and deliver better care.

To help prepare for these discussions, MOAA developed a survey and asked for your inputs.  MOAA’s intent was to gauge beneficiaries’ experiences in accessing their health care, what they perceive as a reasonable cost for their care, and the quality of that health care received.

Over 30,000 of you responded.

Once accessed, the vast majority of survey respondents are satisfied with their health care.  Here is a summary of satisfaction ratings on several key topics:

 Care Quality 95% 86% 81%
 Ability to Pick Dr 90% 81% 62%
 How Much You Pay 86% 68% 80%


On the ability to get routine care within the 7-day DoD timeliness standard, 20% of TRICARE Prime beneficiaries said they “rarely or never” can get care that fast – almost double the TFL and Standard responses.

Among Prime beneficiaries, those seeking care in military facilities reported much greater problems getting appointments than those seeing civilian providers.

The most consistent responses among all survey takers were on the question, “Is it reasonable to ask military beneficiaries to pay more?”  The percentage saying “definitely not” or “probably not” was 76% for TFL beneficiaries, 74% for Prime, and 78% for Standard, with all categories reporting 56-58% saying “definitely not”.

MOAA greatly appreciates everyone that participated in the survey. We used your responses to substantiate our testimony to Congress on Thursday, and your voices were heard.


December 4, 2015

Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) held a hearing this week on the current military promotion system as part of the committee’s ongoing focus on defense reform.

Congress enacted current officer promotion guidelines in the early 1980s through the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) to reflect the professional development needs and requirements of the force in the post-Vietnam era.

The 1986 Goldwater/ Nichols legislation added new requirements for joint duty as a factor in promotion consideration.

In order to remain competitive in their professional military career fields, officers have had to successfully meet their individual service requirements under DOPMA as well as the joint service obligations required under the Goldwater/Nichols legislation.

McCain wants to review and make changes to a system that he says “is overly focused on schedules as compared to merit.” He echoed recent criticism that the system is too inflexible given the nation’s current and future national security requirements.

Dr. David Chu, a former Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, testified at the hearing. “I think fundamentally it’s not about a particular constraint, it’s about the paradigm that the defense department follows that all officers look the same,” said Chu. “We are grooming all officers to be chief of staff.”

Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) voiced concern over the military’s current “up or out” policy, which has governed officer promotions for the last 70 years. Although he acknowledged some aspects of the system work well, he worried “[i]n some circumstances, it requires divestiture of talent at its peak.”

Witnesses cited the medical fields as examples where officers compete separately for promotion from the line ranks and are allowed to serve until later ages.  Some propose treating more fields this way, such as information systems or other technical specialties.

One issue of concern to MOAA is the past experience with longer service that caused the “up or out” provisions to be enacted in the first place.  Prior to modernizing the officer promotion system initially after WWII, top-notch officers stagnated for years at the same rank in the inter-war period, because older officers who had been passed over for promotion were not forced to leave the service-thereby “freezing” the promotion system and causing many good officers to leave the service out of frustration.

MOAA is first and foremost concerned with how potential changes might affect the overall readiness of the future all-volunteer force.  We will continue to monitor discussions on this and other aspects of military personnel reform.




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