|December 5, 2005|
| Page 6 - FastTrack, Pay & Benefits -
Starting in January, seniors will be able to use a prescription drug plan
through Medicare. Enrollment runs 11/15/05-05/15/05. But Tricare officials
caution there is "no added value" to buying the Medicare pharmacy plan for
most people who are eligible for both Tricare and Medicare. The only
Tricare-eligible users who may benefit form the Medicare plan are those
whose assets and income are low enough to qualify them for help from
Medicare in paying premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. Another related
article on Page 18 Newslines, Pay & Benefits states that Tricare eligible
retirees should just throw away any fliers or other advertisements trying
to get you to enroll in Medicare Part D. Medicare Part D does not help in
any way a person who's eligible for Tricare.
Page 14 - Newslines, Washington - There are 10 issues related to military benefits that Congress must decide on to complete the 2006 defense bill. Wounded warrior pay, Tricare for reservists, Income Replacement for deployed reservists and guard, Equality in death benefits (adjustment of the military death gratuity for all active duty military from $12,000 to $100,000), Thrift savings matching funds (to be tested for new Army recruits only), Transfer bonuses (for those moving from the Navy or Air Force to the Army), Survivor benefits and Concurrent receipt (eliminate VA payment offsets to retired pay and adjustment of SBP premium payment requirements), Helping senior enlisted, and reserve retirement issue.
|December 12, 2005|
|Page 27 Newslines (Pay and Benefits) - A Sept. 18
report to Congress on military benefits said family leave is the most
significant benefit available in the private sector that is not open to
service members (1993 Family and Medical Leave Act - provides up to 12
weeks of unpaid leave for birth, adoption, or family emergencies). Defense
officials said they willing to consider a more flexible policy but would
not promise any changes. The officials are reluctant to change the
military leave policy. For instance, the Pentagon has resisted an effort
by Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan. to offer service members the opportunity to share
leave with others, as is widely done in the federal civilian workforce.
Page 28 Newslines (The Military) - More than half of U.S. troops who have been medically evacuated from Iraq and treated at two of the military's large medical facilities suffer not from battle wounds but from bad backs. Historically, the ideal carry weight is a third of your body weight. But many troops in the field carry much more than that -- up to 180 pounds in some cases. The military is responding. Physical therapists are being deployed with some battalions, and chiropractic services also are available.
Page 34 Newslines (Retirement) - Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind, chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee announced that veterans' service organizations will no longer have the opportunity to present testimony in a joint hearing each spring. These joint hearings have been held since the 1950's. Instead the hearings will be held in February, shortly after the release of the President's budget. Some veterans groups see this as a way to "eliminate criticism of current and anticipated budget and policy initiatives and to marginalize veterans voices" by moving the meetings so close to the release of the President's budget that the groups will not have enough time to digest and formulate views on the initiatives that affect veterans and retirees.
Not from The Navy Times but interesting nonetheless: Military.com reports ... TRICARE Fees May Triple - Defense Department officials have drafted plans to raise TRICARE enrollment fees and deductibles sharply over the next three years for military retirees under age 65 and their families, about three million beneficiaries. If the changes touted by senior Defense officials are adopted, annual enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime, the militarys managed care option, would triple by October 2008 for working-age retired officers and double for enlisted retirees. To learn more, read article TRICARE Fee Increase by Tom Philpott.
|December 19, 2005|
|Page 7 News Break The Joint Staff has
authorized the award of the Humanitarian Service Medal and Armed Forces
Service Medal to soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and members of the
Coast Guard active and reserve who participated in relief operations
for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Page 14 Newslines The Navy Officials, wear-testers praise all-purpose jacket included in working uniform proposal. Every sailor, officer and enlisted alike, could be issued a new Gore-Tex, fleece-lined hooded camouflage working jacket when the proposed working uniform is approved.
Page 34 Lifelines The Navy New Meals, Ready-to-Eat are set to hit the military. New options for 2005 include: the Ranger Bar, an oat-based meal bar similar to commercial health snacks; Cheese Nips; raisins; white chocolate and raspberry cookies; smokehouse almonds; cinnamon scones; and blueberry-cherry cobbler. Upcoming menus only get better tuna, new chewing gum, chocolate peanut butter spread, chicken and dumpling, meatballs with marinara sauce and more.
|December 26, 2005|
|Page 6 - FastTrack (Pay & Benefits) - The maximum
loan available under the veteran's home loan program increases on Jan. 1
from $359,650 to $417,000.
Page 17 - Newslines (Pay & Benefits) - The military is considering outsourcing it's military postal system. It's a move that could save up to 30% of current costs and return 4,000 active and reserve troops to military jobs. It is currently only being considered and no timeline is yet set for the switch.
Page 19 - Newslines (Pay & Benefits) - The Veterans Administration is considering a controversial change in disability benefits that would provide a one-time lump sum, rather than monthly payments, to those with low-rated disabilities. Veterans groups are opposed to the switch for many reasons, one of which is the change doesn't address what to do if a condition worsens over time would a veteran be able to obtain increased benefits? There also might be errors in the initial assessment of the disability, which is currently quite common. The issue is still being studied and the final report is not due out until after August 2006.