RETIREE HEALTH CARE

From: "Bruce K. Melson" <doc32751@cookeville.com>

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR UNIFORMED SERVICES
MID-WEEK UPDATE -- 11 OCTOBER 2000
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Today, jumping a major hurdle, the House passed (382-31) the Conference
Report on H.R. 4205, the Floyd Spence National Defense Authorization Act
for Fiscal Year 2001. The next hurdle is passage of the Conference Report
in the Senate, which may take it up this afternoon.

Use the NAUS Toll Free Hotline 1-877-778-9001, to call your Senators and
urge them to vote FOR the defense authorization bill (H.R. 4205) and oppose
any efforts that would delay or deny passage of this legislative initiative.

MAJOR ELEMENTS OF THE FY01 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
IMPROVES MILITARY RETIREE HEALTH CARE FOR MEDICARE ELIGIBLES:
* ? Beginning in fiscal year 2002 the TRICARE for Life initiative
is open to military retirees and their eligible family members.

* ? Beneficiaries could keep their current Medicare provider and
use TRICARE as their Medicare supplement paying any costs not covered by
Medicare. (The intent of the bill is to extend overseas and be primary
payer since Medicare is not available outside of the United States.)

* ? Beneficiaries would pay no co-pays or deductibles - they are
required to be enrolled in Part B. The plan also includes no enrollment
fees or premiums for all Medicare eligible beneficiaries.

OTHER KEY PROVISIONS IN THE BILL
* ? The bill approved and strengthened several military health care
proposals adopted by the House and Senate earlier this year. To support
these recommendations, the conference committee added $178.6 million to the
President's request for the Defense Health Program.

* ? Makes major improvements in the TRICARE program by authorizing
DoD to increase reimbursement rates to health care professionals in certain
localities.

* ? Directs the Secretary of Defense to examine the effect of
TRICARE reimbursement rates on beneficiary access to health care providers
in rural areas.

* ? Authorizes DoD to reimburse TRICARE beneficiaries for
reasonable expenses incurred while traveling more than 100 miles for the
location where they normally receive their primary care services.

* ? Eliminates the requirement for TRICARE primary care providers
to seek authorization before making a referral to a specialist who is part
of the managed care support contractor's network of providers.

* ? Extends the TRICARE Senor Prime (Medicare Subvention)
demonstration for an additional one-year.

* ? Establishes a DoD and Veterans Affairs cooperative programs to
ensure patients are getting the right care and the right medicines.

LOWERS THE CATASTROPHIC CAP
The agreement also reduces the maximum out of pocket expenses for all
military retirees by 60%, from $7,500 to $3,000
.
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS:
Expands DoD's mail order and network retail pharmacy programs, the
TRICARE Senior Pharmacy Program to allow participation by all
beneficiaries, including the over 64 retirees in Medicare without
enrollment fees. Medicare eligibles over 64 would be able to use the
out-of-network pharmacies by paying a deductible of $150 per year.

CONCURRENT RECEIPT:
The bill expanded eligibility for Special Compensation for Severely
Disabled Retirees to include those retirees who completed 20 or more years
of active duty and were retired for reasons of disability (Chapter 61
retirees) beginning in fiscal year 2002.

IMPROVEMENT FOR ACTIVE DUTY PERSONNEL INCLUDE:
A pay raise of 3.7 percent; establishes a targeted subsistence payment
(up to $500 per month) to assist economically challenged personnel
(principally those living on food stamps; and increased housing allowances.

OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS IN WASHINGTON:
The number of appropriations bills still remaining to be passed by
Congress has been reduced to 10. Today, President Clinton signed the
Interior spending bill (HR 4578), the third of the 13 fiscal 2001
appropriations measures that became law. The bill earmarks $12 billion
over six years for land conservation, preservation and maintenance. The
other appropriations bills signed by the president are military
construction (HR 4425 - PL 106-246) and defense (HR 4576 - PL 106-259)
appropriations bills in July and August.

Plans for a weekend session and adjournment vanished today. Congressional
leaders conceded the end of the appropriations
process in the 106th Congress is not yet in sight. House members were told
the chamber will not be in session Friday and will reconvene Monday. To
keep the government operational through next week Congress will send a
third continuing resolution to the President.

Today, the House and maybe the Senate plan to vote on the agriculture
spending conference report (HR 4461), after the House voted 315-98 to
override Clinton's veto of the energy and water bill (HR 4733).
Negotiations continue on other bills, including the District of Columbia
(HR 4942), Commerce-Justice-State (HR 4690) and Labor-HHS-Education (HR
4577) appropriations. A Labor-HHS-Education conference report could reach
the House floor tomorrow. However, Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle, S.D.,
has said even though Republicans may agree among themselves on
appropriations issues, little will be accomplished unless House and Senate
Democrats and the President are brought on board.

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"If It's To Be, It's Up To Me."
The NALNAUS Bugler, Volume III, Issue 5, September 2000
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= THIS CONCLUDES THE UPDATE =

__________________________________
Willie G. Dougherty
Program Director
The National Veterans Organization of America, Inc.
Visit NVO Website at http://www.nvo.org
Veterans Voice of Austin http://vvoa.com
_____________________________________
While the right to talk may be the beginning of freedom,
the necessity of listening is what makes the right important.
 - Walter Lippman
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You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.
 - Albert Einstein (03/14/1879-1955)