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[*] Reserve Benefits: H.R.0000 | Healthcare for Our Troops Act:
A bipartisan bill would provide medical and dental care for Selected Reserve members at no out-of-pocket cost, bringing their coverage in line with their active duty counterparts. MOAA supports the Healthcare for Our Troops Act, introduced 25 MAY by Reps. Trent Kelly (R-MS) and Andy Kim (D-NJ), because the health of Selected Reserve servicemembers is a readiness issue. The enhanced coverage would be for Selected Reserve servicemembers only. Their dependents still would be eligible to purchase premium-based TRICARE Reserve Select. The bill addresses one of the top goals of National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson. “Among my most pressing concerns are premium-free health care for every Guardsman who serves in uniform,” Hokanson said in his opening statement at the 4 MAY House Defense Appropriations hearing. He reiterated this priority at the Senate Defense Appropriations hearing 18 MAY. The Healthcare for Our Troops Act would provide zero out-of-pocket cost medical and dental care for Reserve Component members eligible for TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) by eliminating monthly TRS premiums and cost sharing for covered services. The bill also would require a study on eliminating annual physicals during drill and replacing them with forms to be completed by civilian providers to assess medical readiness.
[*] TRICARE Dental Program:
Effective May 2021, the premiums for Tricare Dental are increasing slightly. These increases should be reflected in your May pay. The rate increases are different for each premium group, with monthly increases ranging from $0.05 to $0.47, depending on the sponsor's military service status and the number of family members being insured through the program. Tricare Dental coverage beneficiaries who do not pay via military payroll payment need to ensure that their payment amounts are adjusted to the new rate. If payments 12 are not paid on time, you may be disenrolled from the Tricare Dental program. Once disenrolled, you are ineligible to re-enroll for 12 months.
Refer to https://www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices/Dental/SurvivorBenefit for more information about dental benefits for military retirees and survivors via the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).
[*] VA Caregiver Program:
Veterans Affairs officials are overhauling their application process for caregiver benefits while simultaneously fighting a court ruling that would force them to allow a legal review for individuals rejected 32 for the program. The move follows an order last month from a panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims judges, which ruled that families rejected by the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers should have an opportunity to appeal those decisions to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, which handles other VA benefits disputes. But VA officials have opposed that idea, arguing instead that keeping program decisions within the clinical side of department operations will produce better health care options for veterans and less complexity for families. “We believe that participation in this program is part of a veteran’s overall medical care plan,” said Meg Kabat, senior advisor on families, caregivers and survivors at VA. “These clinical and medical decisions being thrown into the litigation process is not what is best for veterans.” On 10 MAY, VA asked the full veterans claims court to revisit the April decision. At the center of the case are concerns over how applications to the caregiver program are handled. For veterans who need significant home care from a spouse or family member, the program awards up to $2,300 a month in stipends and access to additional support services
[*] VA Herbicide Related Claims:
Veterans who were previously denied service connection for an herbicide related presumptive condition due to lack of in-country Vietnam service will have their claims automatically readjudicated by VA. The department began readjudicating claims in April for Veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War but were denied for one or more herbicide related conditions, on the basis that military service was not performed on the landmass of the Republic of Vietnam or on its inland waterways. “Readjudication means VA will review the evidence of record and provide replacement decisions in the cases of Veterans who were previously denied service connection benefits,” said Acting VA Under Secretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy. “We have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of our Veteran community and will ensure all eligible Veterans’ and their survivors’ claims are examined thoroughly and fairly.” The review also applies to eligible survivors of deceased Vietnam-era Veterans and is part of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s implementation of the Nov. 5, 2020, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California order in Nehmer vs. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, requiring VA to readjudicate previously denied claims.
VA will determine if benefits for qualifying disabilities can now be paid retroactively to the date of previously denied claims. The court’s decision requires automatic readjudication in such cases without requiring a new claim, and potentially paying benefits to the survivors or estates of deceased beneficiaries. More information is available regarding VA disability benefits based on Agent Orange exposure
[*] VET Legislation Progress:
H.R. 958 -- Passed House on 12 MAY. The Protecting Moms Who Served Act would structure VA’s maternity care coordination programs to provide community maternity care providers with training and support for veterans' unique pregnancy and postpartum needs. This legislation would also require a report on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity among veterans, infant mortality rates, and racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes. The bill was introduced 8 FEB by Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) and had 43 cosponsors.
H.R. 1448 -- Passed House on 12 MAY. The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act which would provide a VA 5-year pilot grant program to cover the cost of pairing a service dog with an eligible veteran diagnosed with PTSD. The bill also authorizes the VA to provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses, regardless of whether they have a mobility impairment. Under the act VA would maintain certain veterinary insurance coverage for each service dog provided the veteran continues to see their physician or mental health care provider every six months. On 13 MAY it was received in the Senate and read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affair. The bill was introduced on 1 MAR by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) and had 317 cosponsors.
[*] COLA FY 2021:
Federal, military and Social Security retirees are in line for a cost of living adjustment (COLA) that could be their biggest in more than a decade. Current projections of the size of the inflation catchup range from 3% to as much as 4.7%. The higher 4.7% estimate comes from the Senior Citizens League, which says it would be the highest COLA since 2009 when retirees got 5.8%, reflecting price increases as the nation climbed out of the Great Recession. The final amount of the 2022 COLA won’t be determined until living costs for July, August and September are tallied. That final figure won’t be announced until early October. Most recipients of Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and military and social security benefits will get the full COLA. Their benefits are linked to the official increase in inflation from the third quarter of this year over the third quarter of the previous year. And they are automatic. Most current federal retirees are under the CSRS program and will get the full amount of the 2022 COLA. But those who are under the newer Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) plan — the majority of current workers and of future retirees — aren’t guaranteed full inflation protection. COLAs for them don’t kick in until they are 62 or older, and the amount of the COLA is 1% less than the full inflation rate if it is 2% or higher. So if the COLA is 3%, they would get 2% in January. If it is higher, like the 4.7% estimate, they would get 3.7%. This year all retirees got a 1% COLA.
[*] Long Term Care FLTCIP:
The prospect of needing long-term care may be far from your mind today, but circumstances can change. A long-term care event can happen at any age, and the potential financial and emotional strain that comes with it can have an impact on you and your loved ones. Unfortunately, traditional health insurance plans — including TRICARE For Life — do not pay for the chronic, ongoing assistance with daily living that is most often associated with long-term care. In fact, even the long-term care benefits offered through the VA are tied to specific triggers, including service-connected disability, available funding, and even your ability to contribute to the cost of care.
Coverage Under FLTCIP FLTCIP 3.0, the current plan available to new applicants, offers comprehensive coverage, including a stayat-home benefit and home care provided by friends and family, with added premium stability. Note: Informal care provided by friends and family members is covered, as long as the caregiver isn’t your spouse or domestic partner and doesn’t live in your home at the time you become eligible for benefits. Benefits for covered care provided by family members is limited to 500 days. What makes FLTCIP 3.0 unique is the premium stabilization feature. This built-in, innovative feature is designed to reduce the potential need for large future premium increases — a concern many consumers wanted the long-term care insurance industry to address. Under certain conditions, this amount may be used to offset an enrollee’s future premium payments or provide a refund of premium death benefit. FLTCIP is designed to reimburse for qualified long-term care services and can lessen or eliminate an individual’s reliance on a loved one to provide hands-on care. 3.0 benefits include: · International coverage up to 100% of the maximum lifetime benefit. · Choice of a 3% automatic compound inflation option or future purchase option. · Choice of a two-, three- or five-year benefit period. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to long-term care insurance, and it’s no secret that planning for your future care can be overwhelming. FLTCIP’s new Guided Planner was designed to simplify the process.