Monday, February 10, 2014

VFW WASHINGTON WEEKLY

FW WASHINGTON WEEKLY
February 7, 2014

In This Issue:
1. Press Conference Draws Support for Senate Vet Bill
2. VFW Testifies Before House Subcommittee
3. FY 2015 Independent Budget Released
4. Veterans' In-State Tuition Passes House
5. VFW Applauds Launch of GI Bill Comparison Tool
6. CFB Briefs Military Coalition on Consumer Protection
7. Tricare For Life Pharmacy Update

1. Press Conference Draws Support for Senate Vet Bill: VFW offered its
support for comprehensive veterans' legislation at a Tuesday press
conference with Senate VA Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to
call on the full Senate to pass S. 1982---the Veterans Health and
Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014. The bill
would eliminate the one-percent COLA reduction on working-age military
retirees, as well as extend the Caregiver's Act to all generations,
and provide advance appropriations for VA's mandatory accounts, which
would guarantee monthly disability and survivor checks, and GI Bill
education payments, in the event of future government shutdowns.
Sanders was quick to point out that this bill is the result of a
bipartisan effort, and that it was written based on suggestions
expressed by the VFW and other veterans' organizations. The VFW
strongly supports the bill and urges its quick passage. For more
details, visit our blog at
http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/02/vfw-calls-on-senate-to-pass-veterans.html.

2. VFW Testifies Before House Subcommittee: On Wednesday, the VFW
testified before the House VA Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial
Affairs about technology use by the VA's Veterans Benefits
Administration and its effect on the disability claims process. VFW
National Veterans Service Deputy Director Jerry Manar testified that
recent policy changes appear to make the backlog look smaller, but
instead of fixing the problem the VA just redefined it and often to
the detriment of veterans. He also asked the subcommittee to block any
action by VA to implement proposed rules which would eliminate a
veteran's ability to file informal claims. Filing an informal claim
allows veterans and other claimants to establish a date of claim for
possible benefit entitlement without first filing a completed
electronic application or form. For a complete explanation of why VFW
opposes this change, see:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA-2013-VBA-0022-0051.
To read our testimony or to view a recorded webcast of the hearing,
visit our blog site at:
http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/02/vfw-warns-congress-that-vas-backlog.html

3. FY 2015 Independent Budget Released: This week, the VFW along with
its partners---AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed
Veterans of America---released their 28th edition of The Independent
Budget, a comprehensive budget and policy document written by veterans
for veterans that details funding requirements for the Department of
Veterans Affairs. Recommendations for FY 2015 include:
* $61.1 billion total for healthcare---$2.3 billion more than what the
Administration recommended ($58.8 billion) in the FY 2015 advance
appropriation last year.
* $62.4 billion total advance appropriation for healthcare for FY 2016.
* $2.5 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration, which is
approximately $44 million more than FY 2014 appropriated levels.
* $3.9 billion for all construction programs, which is approximately
$2.7 billion more than FY 2014 appropriated levels.
* $611 million for medical and prosthetics research, which is
approximately $25 million more than the FY 2014 appropriated level
To read the joint IB press release with link to the full IB, go to
http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2014-Articles/Veterans-Service-Organizations-Urge-$72-9-Billion-Investment-in-Veterans'-Health-Care-and-Benefits/.

4. Veterans' In-State Tuition Passes House: On Monday the House passed
H.R. 357, a bill designed to extend in-state tuition protection to
student veterans who seek to use their earned GI Bill benefits at a
public college or university within three years of leaving active
duty, by a unanimous vote of 390-0. The VFW has made in-state tuition
protection for veterans one of its top legislative priorities, working
to ensure that public colleges and universities cannot disqualify
veterans from in-state tuition because of their prior military service
obligations. Leading up to the vote, VFW generated more than 1,000
messages to Congress, calling for the bill's passage. To learn more
about the VFW's work on in-state tuition, click
here:http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/02/veterans-in-state-tuition-bill-passes.html

5. VFW Applauds Launch of GI Bill Comparison Tool: This week the VFW
applauded VA's roll out of its new GI Bill Comparison Tool to help
student veterans compare GI Bill-eligible institutions from one online
site. The comparison tool was the VFW's second major education reform
priority over the past two years to help provide better information to
college-bound veterans, and it combines resources that veterans used
to have to find across dozens of web sites and three federal agencies.
To read VFW's official response to the roll-out, click here:
http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2014-Articles/VFW-APPLAUDS-NEW-GI-BILL-COMPARISON-TOOL/
To start comparing schools, click here:
http://department-of-veterans-affairs.github.io/gi-bill-comparison-tool/

6. CFPB Briefs Military Coalition on Consumer Protection: On Thursday,
your VFW joined its partners in The Military Coalition for a briefing
by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CFPB Director of
Servicemember Affairs Holly Petraeus took the opportunity to directly
explain the financial issues facing today's military and veterans'
communities, and how these issues can be avoided through proper
financial education and assistance programs. The CFPB offers a
military-specific complaint process for military and veteran consumers
who believe they are victims or fraud or abuse. The CFPB also works to
develop new resources specifically geared toward financial literacy
for the military and veterans' communities. To learn more about the
CFPB's resources and Thursday's briefing, click here:
http://thevfw.blogspot.com/2014/02/vfw-joins-tmc-briefing-on-consumer.html

7. Tricare For Life Pharmacy Update: Beginning Feb. 14, TRICARE for
Life beneficiaries will be required to fill maintenance medication
prescriptions through the TRICARE Home Delivery (mail-order) pharmacy
system. The change stems from the recently passed FY 2013 Defense
Authorization bill and is designed to save money by lowering costs for
both beneficiaries and DOD. For instance, a 30-day refill of generic
medication costs $5 at a retail drug store, but a 90-day refill
through the mail-order pharmacy is free. For name brand medications,
the cost is $13 for a 90-day mail-order refill versus $17 for a 30-day
refill at a retail store. Beneficiaries living near a military
hospital or clinic can continue to fill their prescriptions there and
do not need to enroll in the mail order program. Additionally, nursing
home patients and those with other prescription coverage are also
exempt. Beneficiaries may opt out after using the mail-order refill
system after the one-year trial period. TRICARE is currently reaching
out to affected beneficiaries. You can enroll online or over the phone
at 1-877-363-1303. For more information or to sign-up, go
tohttp://www.tricare.mil/Home/Pharmacy/FillPrescriptions/HomeDelivery.
--




Sean Eagan

Life Member VFW NY Post 53
American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
Web: http://americancoldwarvets.org/
Blog: Cold War Veterans Blog
Email: Sean.Eagan@gmail.com
Phone: 716 720-4000
Network: My Fast Pitch! Profile