16 July 2012 Legislative News Update 

7/16/2012 

Legislative News is AUSA Government Affairs Directorate's
weekly electronic newsletter, and is published
every Monday when Congress is in session.




In this issue:

  • TRICARE Prime Fee Increases Announced
  • Veteran Skills To Jobs Act Headed To President
  • House Approves Veteran's Cost of Living Allowance

★★★

 

TRICARE PRIME FEE INCREASES ANNOUNCED

Enrollment fees for many TRICARE Prime beneficiaries will increase Oct. 1, 2012. 

In the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress allowed the Department of Defense (DoD) to raise fees for TRICARE Prime beneficiaries.  However, because of intense pressure by AUSA and its partners in The Military Coalition, DoD was only allowed to raise them based on the annual Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) not the medical inflation index they wanted.  Since the COLA for fiscal 2012 was 3.6 percent, the fee increase will also be 3.6 percent. 

Retired service members and their eligible family members, survivors, and former spouses pay TRICARE Prime enrollment fees, which are applied to the annual catastrophic cap.  Excluded from fee increases are survivors of active duty service members and medically retired service members and their dependents.

The table below outlines the TRICARE Prime enrollment fees for fiscal 2013. 

 

ANNUAL 

QUARTERLY 

MONTHLY 

INDIVIDUAL 

$269.28 

$67.32 

$22.44 

FAMILY 

$538.56 

$134.64 

$44.88 

Because the fee increase is based on the annual COLA, the percentage of the increase will vary from year to year.  Based on the costs of goods and services that go into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, it is estimated that the COLA for fiscal 2013 will range between 1.3 percent and 1.9 percent.  A final calculation will not be made until early October.

AUSA successfully fought the Defense Department's recent attempt to further increase/implement TRICARE fees for Prime and TRICARE For Life. 

 

VETERAN SKILLS TO JOBS ACT HEADED TO PRESIDENT

AUSA-supported legislation that will make it easier for veterans to find jobs using skills acquired through military training cleared Congress last week and is headed to the President to be signed into law. 

The Veteran Skills to Jobs Act (H.R. 4155, introduced by Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., and S.2239, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.) will address the unacceptably high rate of veteran unemployment by streamlining the federal certification process and cutting through the bureaucratic red tape, making it easier for veterans to utilize the skills they acquired in the military to find work at home.

Rather than going through the process of redundant trainings for jobs they are already qualified for, the legislation directs the head of each federal department and agency to treat relevant military training as sufficient to satisfy training or certification requirements for federal license.  Veterans with the relevant training would be eligible to receive a federal license and get back to work immediately. 

In May, AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., wrote a letter to the sponsors of the legislation thanking them for introducing the important measure and offering his and the Association’s support. 

HOUSE APPROVES VETERAN'S COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE

In other news that affects veterans, the House overwhelmingly passing the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012 (H.R. 4114).
 
By law, the cost-of-living adjustments to the VA’s compensation and pension rates are the same percentage as Social Security benefits, but Congress still must enact the veterans’ increase each year. Effective Dec. 1, the increase is expected to be between 1.3 to 1.9 percent.

Survivors eligible for compensation include spouses, unmarried children younger than 18, children 18 or older who are permanently incapable of self-support, children between the ages of 18 and 22 who are enrolled in school, and certain parents.

What's next:  The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.