Legislative Newsletter Update 16 November 2009 

11/16/2009 


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



      
 

In this issue:

  • AUSA Fighting 21 Percent Medicare Reimbursement Decrease
  • AUSA Chapters Ratify 2010 Resolutions
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AUSA FIGHTING 21 PERCENT MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT DECREASE



AUSA President Gen. Gordon Sullivan, USA, Ret., sent a letter to House leaders last week urging passage of H.R. 3961, The Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009.  The legislation would reverse the planned 21 percent reduction in the Medicare Physician Payment rate set to occur in January 2010.  It would repeal the flawed formula that results in annual reduction requirements and would replace it with one that emphasizes primary and preventative care services.
 
Declining participation of providers in Medicare and TRICARE due to low reimbursements is a serious healthcare problem facing Medicare-eligibles and military beneficiaries of all ages.  Since TRICARE payment rates are tied to Medicare’s rates, any reductions adversely impact all military beneficiaries, not just those over age 65.  Finding doctors who accept TRICARE is an enormous problem for the military community - particularly for Guard and Reserve families, retirees, and survivors who live in areas with a small military population.  Payment cuts make the situation even worse.
 
Service members in harm’s way should not have to worry about their families’ healthcare.  There will be long-term negative consequences to retention and readiness if the military TRICARE program cannot provide access to quality care.  So AUSA is urging the Congress to reverse the 21 percent Medicare/TRICARE payment cut scheduled for January 2010 by voting for H.R. 3961.  Add your voice to ours by sending your own letter.  Go to
www.ausa.org,  and click on the “Contact Congress" button at the upper right-hand corner of our homepage for "The Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009.”  Your voice does make a difference!


AUSA CHAPTERS RATIFY 2010 RESOLUTIONS



The Association of the United States Army’s chapters overwhelmingly approved the 2010 Resolutions recognizing that “a fully-manned, well-resourced Army is an absolute necessity,” and calling for increases in end strength for the active force, Army National Guard and Army Reserve to help restore balance in the force.

The Resolutions form the basis of AUSA’s legislative agenda for the coming year.

“Increasing dwell time is one of the reasons AUSA continues to recommend to Congress authorize and fund the following minimum end strengths: the active Army to 700,000, the Army National Guard to 371,000 and the Army Reserve to 215,000,” the preamble to the resolutions stated.

In the resolutions, AUSA urges Congress to increase defense funding to at least 5 percent of gross domestic product and the Army base budget should be given a greater share of the defense budget – at least 28 percent.

The resolutions also note that the resetting of equipment will last several years beyond the end of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  “Eight years of combat has stretched our Army, its soldiers, families, and Army civilians.  To meet the continuing challenges of an era of persistent conflict, it is imperative to restore balance to the Army, to build resiliency in its people, to modernize the force and to adapt its institutions.”

The preamble thanks Congress for its past support of vital programs for soldiers and their families, and said continued support in these areas is critical to sustain the All-Volunteer Force.  The Army “remains committed to providing [soldiers] with the equipment they need to protect themselves and to maintaining a technological advantage in order to accomplish the mission.  Education, training, and leader development cannot be deferred until the conflicts are over.”

At the same time, the resolutions warn against forcing a choice between modernizing the force and personnel programs. “The Army is implementing a modernization strategy that meets the near-term needs of an Army at war and will position the institution for success in the years to come.  The funding level for modernization should not place the Army leadership in the position of having to choose between modernization or readiness and taking care of their soldiers.”

Adding, “The coming decades are likely to be ones of persistent conflict—protracted confrontation among state, non-state, and individual actors who use violence to achieve their political and ideological ends. This era of irregular and hybrid campaigns has mandated that the Army continue to have the central, enduring role in providing land forces to implement the National Security Strategy, and will result in a high demand for Army forces and capabilities.”

The resolutions state “the defense of the United States of America is a shared responsibility with the people of our nation. Americans must stay engaged. They must continue to shoulder the responsibilities that come with the freedoms we all enjoy.

“One of these responsibilities is to provide the resources necessary to preserve freedom for ourselves and ensure it for those who follow. Make no mistake – if freedom is to endure, this shared responsibility is a moral imperative. Failure is not an option.”

One-hundred seventeen of AUSA’s 122 chapters participated in the voting.