Friday, March 24, 2006

NGAUS Legislative Update 24 March 2006

Congress in Recess

Congress was on its St. Patrick’s Day recess this week. Both the House and the Senate will return to work on Monday, March 27.

Prior to the recess the House completed it’s work on the FY06 Supplement. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark it’s version of the bill sometime next week.

NGAUS Letter to AFA

On March 20, NGAUS President, Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Koper, (ret), addressed a letter to the Air Force Association outlining NGAUS’ position on implementation of the Air Force’s Total Force Integration (TFI) “Phase II” plan. In the letter, Brig. Gen. Koper identifies the disconnect between a proposed plan by the Air Force (in the FY08 budget) of cutting the Air National Guard's (ANG) end strength while at the same time the Air Force tries to introduce new missions into the Air Guard—which require increased manning to fill out the new mission sets.

For a copy of the letter, check out the NGAUS website.

Retiree TRICARE Premiums-Update

The Marine Corps Times reports that the Department of Defense (DoD) has told TRICARE contractors to cancel plans for an Oct. 1 increase in health care fees for military retirees under age 65. DoD has not given up on their basic proposal, which calls for fee hikes of as much as $1,500 a year for working-age retirees using the military health care system, but they now seem to recognize that fierce opposition from military and veterans’ groups and growing concern in Congress have made an Oct. 1 effective date for the increases virtually impossible.

At the March 14, Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing, the Republican chairman and Democratic ranking member of the Senate Armed Services personnel panel promised military service associations they would not support the fee increases until an independent audit of the military health care system is completed to determine if there are other ways to cut increasing health care costs.

Additionally, the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee have announced they oppose the TRICARE fee increases, and a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House to block any increases without specific congressional approval. The Pentagon’s proposed fee increases, still being reviewed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, would increase enrollment fees, co-payments and deductibles for military retirees under the age of 65 and their families. Increases would be based on pay grade, and would apply to both TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard, with a maximum increase of $1,500 a year.

Joining Is Just the Beginning!

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Use the website to write your Member of Congress or call them at: 1-888-642-8799.

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