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Veterans’ Issues

Administration Drops Chained CPI

FRA is thankful that the Administration has abandoned its call for implementing the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) in lieu of the current CPI when calculating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for various programs. The President’s 2014 budget request had proposed using the less-beneficial chained CPI, but it was not implemented by Congress, and the chained CPI was dropped by the Administration 2015 budget.

FRA is committed to ensuring equitable COLAs for military retirees’ retainer pay, veterans disability compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for surviving spouses and children, and was listed as a supporting organization on a letter signed by 118 U.S. representatives that calls on President Obama to avoid using the Chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for these benefits, along with benefits afforded through Social Security and other federal programs. Switching to the chained CPI would reduce payments and have a negative financial impact on seniors, military retirees, veterans, survivors, and people with disabilities.

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TRICARE-for-Life Begins Notifications for Home Delivery Pharmacy Pilot Program

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) has indicated that TRICARE-for-Life (TFL) beneficiaries will receive letters guiding them to TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery or a military pharmacy for some prescriptions as part of a congressionally mandated pilot program. TFL is secondary coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries who have both Medicare Part A and Part B in the United States and U.S. territories.

The pilot program started March 15 and requires beneficiaries who use TFL to get certain medications through Home Delivery or at a military pharmacy. The program applies to refills of maintenance medications taken regularly for chronic conditions.

As part of the pilot program, mandated by Congress in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, TFL will stop paying for these medications obtained from a retail pharmacy. The program does not apply to medications for acute conditions taken for a limited time, such as antibiotics or pain medications, and it does not apply to generic drugs. The pilot program will last for five years, but beneficiaries may choose to opt out after filling an affected prescription under the pilot program through Home Delivery for one year.

Beneficiaries will be notified if they are taking a medication covered under the program. They will have two “courtesy fills” available through a retail pharmacy before they are responsible for the entire cost of their medication.

Beneficiaries may call the TRICARE pharmacy contractor, Express Scripts, at 1-877-882-3335 or visit the Express Scripts website to switch to Home Delivery or to ask questions about their medications. To switch a prescription to a military pharmacy, beneficiaries may need to get a new prescription from their doctor.

Some people are exempt, including people with another prescription drug plan or people living overseas. People living in a nursing home may contact Express Scripts to request a waiver from the pilot program.

TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery offers beneficiaries a 90-day supply of their medication with no co-pay for generic drugs (generic retail co-pay is $17 or 20 percent of the total cost, whichever is greater) and $13 for brand-name drugs (the current co-pay for retail brand-name drugs is $51). Switching from a brand-name retail pharmacy to brand-name Home Delivery can save TRICARE beneficiaries up to $152 every year per prescription. As noted above, beneficiaries can also save by asking doctors to write prescriptions for generic versions of their medications.

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DHA Wants EFT from TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) Beneficiaries

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) wants reservists with TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) coverage to monitor their electronic fund transfer (EFT) payments. While TRS beneficiaries are required to setup an EFT to pay their premiums, it’s not foolproof and missed payments can result in a loss of health care coverage.

One major reason for missed payments is an expired credit card. Now is a good time to check the expiration date on the credit card used for TRS EFTs. Make sure to update the regional contractor with any new or pending account information.

If a payment is missed because of insufficient funds, beneficiaries must contact the regional contractor as soon as possible to make payment. If an EFT defaults, there is a service charge of up to $20. Failure to pay any overdue premium amounts will result in suspension of coverage effective the last day of the month last paid.

TRICARE’s goal is to make it easy to manage and pay premiums through EFT. Premiums are deducted on the first business day of the month, so update the regional contractor with account changes as far in advance as possible.

To learn more about TRS premiums and EFT options: Premiums.

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The FRA Legislative team is Tom Snee, National Executive Director; John Davis, Director of Legislative Programs; Bob Washington, Health Care Advisor and Outreach Manager; and Chris Slawinski, National Veterans Service Officer.

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The History of FRA: 1940–1949

FRA gains 11 new branches.
FRA-endorsed legislation increasing peacetime widows’ and dependents’ pensions is enacted.
Because of World War II, the Association holds no national convention as most of its members and all of its National Headquarters staff are serving on active duty. FRA membership continues to grow.
The Association is successful in establishing equity in disability compensation for disabled peacetime veterans and their wartime counterparts. Peacetime disability rates increase from 75 to 90 percent of the wartime rates.
The Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force are combined into a single Department of Defense. Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal becomes the first Secretary of Defense.
Legislative updates appear in Naval Affairs to keep members up-to-date on FRA’s advocacy efforts on their behalf.
Career Compensation Act of 1949 authorizes new basic pay scales, increased allowances and special pays, a more generous reenlistment bonus, a new disability retirement system, and other pay and quality-of-life enhancements.
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