Posted: February 20, 2018

Posted: February 20, 2018

narfe_leg_hotline.jpg

 

Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen
 
“President Trump’s budget calls for $152.5 billion in cuts to earned federal pay and benefits, going so far as to eliminate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for current retirees and hamstring current workers who are just years away from retirement. During his first year in office, the president consistently touted the strong economy, yet this budget would deny America’s federal community even a modest share of this economic prosperity. We must ensure that these cuts do not find their way into congressional budgets or other pieces of legislation. NARFE members should contact their legislators and tell them to reject these unprecedented cuts and any attempts to reduce the earned pay and benefits of the federal community.”
 
President’s Budget Targets Federal Workers and Retirees
 
The president’s recently released fiscal year 2019 budget contains hundreds of billions in cuts that target the earned pay and benefits of the federal community in a time of economic prosperity and rising wage growth. NARFE members should contact their lawmakers today and tell them to reject these cuts, as they could be used in the budget or other pieces of legislation. Easily send a letter to your legislators here. Want to be an even stronger advocate? Select the Twitter and phone icons on the same page to find a sample tweet and call script.
 
Specifically, the president’s budget targets the retirement security of current federal retirees by reducing or eliminating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), leaving retirees insufficiently protected from rising inflation and increasing health care premiums. Current and future retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) would see their COLAs reduced by 0.5 percent each year, while retirees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) would see their COLAs eliminated altogether. 
 
Federal employees covered by FERS would see employee contributions to their annuities increase by 1 percent each year for the next six years, without any corresponding benefit increase. This amounts to a 6 percent pay cut for current workers and would increase the gap between public- and private-sector pay. On top of this, the president also proposed a pay freeze in calendar year 2019 for current workers.
 
The president’s budget also takes aim at those who are nearing retirement by eliminating the FERS Annuity Supplement for new retirees, including those forced to retire early, like federal law enforcement officers. On top of this, new retiree pensions would be based on the average of the highest five years of salary instead of the highest three.
 
Further proposals targeting Feds included limiting the rate of return on the Thrift Savings Plan Government Securities Investment (G) Fund, decreasing total paid time off by combining sick and annual leave into one pool and reducing working and retirement-age benefits for federal workers disabled through their service.
 
All told, these proposals would take away $152.5 billion in earned benefits from the federal community and would break implicit promises made to those who proudly served their nation. NARFE members must contact their legislators if we are to be successful in fighting off these unprecedented cuts.
 
OPM Director Nominee Approved by Senate Committee
 
After several months of delay, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) moved forward with the president’s nominee for Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Jeff Tien Han Pon. The committee voted en bloc to send Pon’s nomination to the full Senate for final confirmation.
 
Pon testified before HSGAC in October 2017, where he answered questions on areas he would like to see improved at OPM. During that hearing, Pon expressed concern with OPM’s retirement claims backlog and the slow pace of federal hiring, and advocated for greater agency-wide efficiency.
 
Pon most recently served as the chief human resources and strategy officer for the Society for Human Resource Management, but also has federal experience from his time as deputy director of eGovernment at OPM and as chief human capital officer at the Energy Department.
 
As of press time, the Senate has yet to schedule a vote on Pon’s final confirmation.
 
Hotline on an As-Needed Basis until March 2

Due to next week’s congressional recess, the Hotline will be published on an as-needed basis until March 2.
 
Make Your Voice Heard in Congress
 
NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.
 
Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s advocacy staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline
 
This weekly advocacy message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Advocacy Department at advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.

trea.jpg

January 24, 2018

FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

 Inside this issue

TREA: The Enlisted Association's Washington Update

·         • The Shutdown Is Over: What Next?

·         • VA Revises Regulations on Reimbursement for Emergency Treatment of Veterans

·         • USAA Will Cover Pay Delayed Due To Government Shutdown

·         • TREA: The Enlisted Association Supports H.R. 4345

·         • Tricare Lowers Some Costs for New Select Plan

 

TREA: The Enlisted Association's Washington Update

 

 

The Shutdown Is Over: What Next?

 

 

Congressional Republicans and Democrats came together earlier this week to reopen the government on Tuesday.

The current deal keeps the federal government funded through February 8th. It is designed to allow enough time to come together and agree on a longer term, hopefully up to 18 months, spending plan even though disagreements over immigration and federal fiscal policies remain.

This budget legislation also includes a provision to provide back pay for troops and other federal workers for the time they missed because of the lapse in operations.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's readiness panel, said Monday that 2,000 South Carolina Guardsmen who were preparing to drill this weekend were sent home instead, and 750 Guard mechanics were laid off.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said the new budget deal comes with a promise from Republican leadership that negotiations on the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival policy will continue over the next few weeks, with a possible vote in early February.

Pentagon leaders and pro-defense lawmakers have lamented the short-term budget extensions as bad for military planning and morale, and repeatedly pushed for a full-year plan. But Republicans have thus far insisted on hefty increases for defense spending alone in any such deal, and Democrats have demanded equal increases for other non-military programs.

TREA: The Enlisted Association urges that both parties come together, negotiate in good faith, and reach  a full-year budget that addresses our country's priorities while lifting the sequestration cap in a timely manner. The brinksmanship must end.
 
 

In Cases of Another Shutdown, Here's What Happens to the Commissaries and Exchanges


During the Shutdown Exchanges Will Stay Open but Most Stateside Commissaries Begin Shutdown Process

Exchanges and MWR Programs:

· Exchange operations continue unchanged.
· MWR programs funded with nonappropriated funds continue unchanged.
 
Commissaries

· 38 commissaries in Europe, one store in Puerto Rico and 28 stores in the Pacific (including two in Guam), will remain open. 
· Commissaries in five remote stateside locations remain open: Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport and Fort Irwin in California; Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak and Fort Greely in Alaska; and Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.
 
· Remainder of stateside commissaries, including those in Alaska and Hawaii, will follow an orderly shutdown to prepare for closing so they can reduce their stocks of perishables and properly safeguard equipment and facilities...most will remain open until regular closing times. For these stores, orders already placed, processed and on the road, will be accepted. Orders that have not been processed or are not on the road, should be cancelled.
 
 

Here Is TRICARE's Shutdown Plan


TRICARE has Announced the Following With Regard to the Government Shutdown:

Federal Government Shutdown

The Military Health System will continue to provide health care to its beneficiaries during a government shutdown. While we can't predict the exact consequences of a shutdown on every part of our MHS, we may see some impacts on the delivery of health care services within our military hospitals and clinics. Inpatient, acute and emergency outpatient care in our medical and dental facilities will continue, as will private sector care under TRICARE. We anticipate most medical and dental providers, along with most retail pharmacies, will honor TRICARE copays and cost shares. If for some reason a TRICARE network provider or pharmacy requires you to pay up front for care, call your regional contractor to discuss it with the provider. If the contractor can't immediately resolve the issue, you can still choose to get care with that provider and save your receipts to file for reimbursement.
You can go to this website in ordert to get more specific information on various DoD health care functions:  https://tricare.mil/shutdown

 

Top

 

VA Revises Regulations on Reimbursement for Emergency Treatment of Veterans

 

 

Last week the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has, through a Federal Register notice, revised its regulations concerning payment or reimbursement for emergency treatment for non-service connected conditions at non-VA facilities.

VA will begin processing claims for reimbursement of reasonable costs that were only partially paid by the Veteran's other health insurance (OHI). Those costs may include hospital charges, professional fees and emergency transportation, such as ambulances.

This change comes on the heels of an earlier announcement that VA was taking immediate action to address delayed payments to community providers, found here.

Effective Jan. 9, VA updated a portion of its regulations in response to an April 2016 U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decision that stated VA could no longer deny reimbursement when OHI pays a portion of the treatment expenses.

VA will apply the updated regulations to claims pending with VA on or after April 8, 2016, and to new claims. By law, VA still may not reimburse Veterans for the costs of copayments, cost shares and deductibles required by their OHI.

VA will work directly with community providers to get additional information needed to review and process these claims. Previous claims do not have to be resubmitted unless requested by VA.

More information on the amended regulation along with guidance may be found here

 

Top

 

USAA Will Cover Pay Delayed Due To Government Shutdown

 

 

In case of another government shut down, USAA plans to offer no-interest loans to active duty servicemembers that are members of USAA so that they will not run in to financial hardships while they are waiting for the government to be funded.

For more information, go to: https://www.military.com/paycheck-chronicles/2018/01/19/usaa-will-cover-pay-delayed-due-government-shutdown.html

 

Top

 

TREA: The Enlisted Association Supports H.R. 4345

 

 

TREA: The Enlisted Association is strongly supporting HR 4345, the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2017. Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA) are the original cosponsors. It currently has 51 other cosponsors. 

The legislation would direct
 the Attorney General to establish and carry out a Veteran Treatment Court Program to provide grants and technical assistance to the State circuit court systems that have adopted a Veterans Treatment Court Program or have filed a notice of intent to establish a Veterans Treatment Court Program with the Secretary of Veterans' Affairs.

This ensures that the Department of Justice has a single office to coordinate the provision of grants, training, and technical assistance to help State, local, and Tribal governments to develop and maintain veteran treatment courts.

It is TREA: The Enlisted Association's opinion that veteran treatment courts are an effective way to help veterans charged with non-violent crimes receive the help and the benefits to which they are entitled, and to prevent recidivism that clogs up the judical system. If we can identify veterans who are likely to not re-offend by making sure they get needed treatment and counseling, we can save money, keep veterans out of the legal system by keeping them healthy and productive, and we can lessen the burden on judical resources - a win-win-win for all involved.

Unfortunately, only 300-350 of the roughly 30,000 counties in the United States have veteran treatment courts. This legislation is aimed at coordinating and easing the devlopment of more of these vital judical resources. 

TREA: The Enlisted Association will be putting out a legislative alert on this bill in the coming days to urge you to contact your Members of Congress to support HR 4345. 

 

Top

 

Tricare Lowers Some Costs for New Select Plan

 

 

Military families, including retiree families, will pay lower co-payments than previously announced for the new Tricare Select plan, according to an announcement in the Federal Register by the Defense Health Agency.

For example, active-duty families in Tricare Select will pay $21 for a primary care outpatient visit, reduced from the previously announced $27. This co-pay applies to families of service members in uniform before Jan.1. Specialty care visits would require a $31 co-pay, reduced from the previously announced $34.

Working-age retirees and their families in Tricare Select will pay $28 for a primary care outpatient visit, reduced from the previously announced $35.

Last fall, Defense Department officials announced the Tricare Select co-pay schedule for active-duty families and retiree families, which allowed those who had entered the military before Jan. 1 to be "grandfathered" into the previous method for calculating co-pays. But while grandfathering usually allows a lower payment rate to continue despite a changing fee system, those currently in the system would pay higher co-pays than those entering the military after January 1.

At the time it was announced, Defense Health officials said the co-payments for the grandfathered group are an average of what the beneficiaries now pay, while the co-payments for those coming into the military this year were set by law in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

This new schedule of co-payments still sets co-pays of those already in service higher than those entering the military this year. For example, those coming into the military will pay a $15 co-payment for a primary care outpatient visit, compared with a $21 co-payment for those in uniform before Jan. 1.

The Defense Health Agency calculated the co-payments of those grandfathered based on past costs, the release states, rather than using the percent-of-services-used model employed by the former Tricare Standard and Extra plans.

TREA: The Enlisted Association will keep you updated with any further changes.