Legislative Update 29 January 2016: Military Family Benefits Changing

We have 1 Action Item at Issue 2 today.



Summary of Issues

At Issue 1. we see MILITARY FAMILY BENEFITS CHANGINGDoD makes big announcement. Maternity leave and childcare changes coming. (See Issue 1 below for the details. GF)


At Issue 2. we see MAIL YOUR LETTERSMOAA makes it easy for you to contact Congress. See Issue 2 below for the details. GF)

At Issue 3. we see COMMISSION URGES TOTAL FORCE APPROACH FOR FUTURE ARMYBlue ribbon panel aims to balance needs of active, reserve components. The National Commission on the Future of the Army offers solutions for contentious issues like budget, equipment, and mission disagreements – and offers a grim warning on potential cuts to troop levels. (See Issue 3 below for the details. GF)

At Issue 4. we see VETERANS TO SAVE MONEY ON VA PRESCRIPTIONSTiered Rx system – sound familiar?. VA proposes a new tiered drug copay system to put money back in veterans’ pockets.  (See Issue 4 below for the details. GF)

At Issue 5. we see MOAA ADVISORY COUNCIL VISITS CAPITOL HILL. Staffers meet with military spouses. (See Issue 5 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





January 29, 2016

Two months after his first wave of changes, Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s Force of the Future Initiative aims to make military service more family friendly.

Maternity and paternity leave, childcare services, and reproductive medical services are among changing benefits.

Active duty female members of all services will now have 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. Last year, the Navy began authorizing 18 weeks of paid maternity leave, while the Army and Air Force offered only 6 weeks.

Carter’s new policy, aimed at providing consistency among the services, will split the difference – increasing 6 weeks for the Air Force and Army, while cutting 6 weeks from the Navy and Marine Corps programs. Carter also increased paternity leave to 14 days of non-continuous leave from the previous 10.

Currently, three weeks of adoptive leave is granted to one parent of a dual military couple. DoD is seeking congressional approval to provide two weeks of leave for the other parent.

Childcare Development Center (CDC) operation hours will be extended to overlap typical work shifts and accommodate military work schedules. CDCs will be required to provide a minimum of 14 hours of continuous coverage.

DoD will also expand reproductive services to active duty servicemembers. Egg and sperm cryopreservation will be available through a pilot program within TRICARE. These are important steps for many wounded warriors, male and female.

The stress of military service on families is cited as one of the biggest reasons servicemembers leave the military. Secretary Carter’s latest announcement aims to help retain the best and the brightest by instituting uniform, family-friendly policies.


MOAA makes it easy for you to contact Congress

The February Military Officer Magazine includes tear-out letters pre-addressed to leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

The letters urge these leaders to preserve what works about military health care and focus on fixing what’s not working. They also include several important principles that should be followed in any military health care reform effort.
.Please take time to sign, stamp, and mail these letters as soon as you can.

(For non-MOAA members, you can click on MAIL YOUR LETTERS here or above to display (edit if desired), print, sign, and mail the 4 letters. GF)


January 29, 2016


The National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA) announced recommendations this week that would balance missions and resources between the Army’s Regular and Reserve components.


The recommendations offer a compromise that could ease past budget, equipment, and mission disagreements between the Army components.


But for its recommendations to succeed, Commissioners said the Defense Department and the services must receive relief from the sequestration law that was the source of most of the budget differences of the past.


Those tensions led Congress to create the 9-person commission, chaired by General Carter F. Ham, USA (Ret). Its charge was to conduct a comprehensive study of the roles, structure, and size of the Army to:


-Assess the size and force mixture of the active component of the Army and the reserve components of the Army.

-Recommend any changes to the structure and missions of the Army in light of anticipated mission requirements and future resources.

-Assess an Army proposal to transfer AH-64 Apache helicopters from Army National Guard to the Regular Army.


The Commission report offers 63 specific recommendations for action, including:

-An Army of 980,000 is the minimally sufficient force to meet current and anticipated missions at an acceptable level of national risk.

-A Regular Army of 450,000, an Army National Guard of 335,000 and an Army Reserve of 195,000 represent the right mix of forces and the absolute minimum personnel levels to meet America’s national security objectives

-.A compromise that would maintain 24 manned Apache helicopter battalions-20 in the Regular army and four in the Army National Guard – rejecting the original Army proposal to take all of the AH-64 Apaches away from the Guard. The Commission goal is to achieve one Army that works and trains together in peacetime and fights together in war.

-The All-Volunteer Force is a national treasure that must be sustained vs. going to a conscription model.

-Development of a true “one Army” Total Army culture is essential.

-Funding at the president’s FY16 level provides the minimum resources necessary to meet mission requirements at acceptable risk.

–Army education infrastructure and its recruiting and marketing must be streamlined and consolidated.


So far, the Commission recommendations have been well received by both the Active component and the Army Guard. It remains to be determined whether all the recommendations will be adopted by the Army. But MOAA is pleased at the Commission’s sincere efforts to understand and accommodate the mission and budget needs of the Total Army.


. January 29, 2016

Under new rules proposed earlier this month by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), most veterans can expect to see $1 – $4 in savings per prescription for outpatient medications, starting next year.

The new regulations will change the VA’s drug payment schedule for veterans with non-service connected conditions in priority groups 2 through 8, to a three-tiered system, similar to the TRICARE pharmacy program.

Under the current system, these veterans pay a flat fee of $8 – $9 per medication for a 30-day supply, with copayments capped at $960 per year.

Starting in 2017, the VA will implement a three-tier copayment system, capping the annual maximum for copayments at $700:

Tier      Prescription Drug Type                                                           Copay (30 Day Supply)

1          Preferred Generic Drugs                                                         $5

2          Non-Preferred Generics And Over-The-Counter                   $8

3          Brand Name                                                                            $11

Because many medications are generics, most veterans should see the new system reduce their out-of-pocket costs.

Those with service-connected conditions in priority group one – veterans with disability ratings of 50 percent or more or unemployable – will still be exempt from paying copays under the new rule.VA wants to encourage veterans to use one pharmacy instead of shopping around at multiple pharmacies to fill medications. By using one pharmacy at lower drug costs, VA anticipates veterans will be more likely to take the medications they’re prescribed. VA, in turn, will be able to collect better patient data and better manage patient health –



Staffers meet with military spouses

The House Armed Services staff gives the MOAA Spouse Council a unique peak into the legislative process

(Click on MOAA ADVISORY COUNCIL VISITS CAPITOL HILLhere or above for the details. GF)


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