ARMED FORCES NEWS
EIGHT DOD/VA DEMONSTRATION SITES SELECTED
November 7, 2003
 


Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs, has announced selection of eight medical sites that will participate in joint demonstrations with Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities. These demonstrations will focus on cooperation in three separate areas: budget and financial management, staffing and assignment, and medical information and information technology systems. The budget and financial management demonstrations will be in Hawaii and in Anchorage, Alaska. The staffing and assignment demonstration will be in the Seattle/Tacoma, Wash., area; in Augusta, Ga.; and in Hampton, Va. The medical information and information technology systems demonstration will be In the Seattle/Tacoma area, in El Paso, Texas, and in San Antonio, Texas.
 

ARMED FORCES NEWS
DISABLED MILITARY RETIREE TAX 
AXED FOR SOME

November 14, 2003

Under the fiscal 2004 defense authorization act, beginning Jan. 1, 2004, all military retirees, including Guard and Reserve, rated 50 percent or more disabled by the VA will receive the first increment of a 10-year phase-in of concurrent receipt of retired pay and VA disability compensation. Also on Jan. 1, 2004, all military retirees, including Guard and Reserves, with combat and certain combat-related disabilities rated 10 percent or higher will be eligible to apply for Combat-Related Special Compensation. Retirees eligible for both CRSC and Concurrent Receipt will have a choice of programs each year during the 10-year phase-in of CR. Claims that are pending under the original CRSC program will continue to be processed and will be paid retroactive to June 1, 2003.

ARMED FORCES NEWS
KEEP OUR PROMISE BILL UPDATED
November 28, 2003


On June 6, 1956, recruiting promises of lifetime medical care for military retirees and families were changed by law to space available care. Retired Air Force Col. Bud Day's Class Act Group unsuccessfully petitioned the courts for redress for members who had entered the service before that date. Although a federal appeals court sympathized, it concluded that the issue was one for Congress rather than the courts. Consequently, the new Keep Our Promise to America's Military Retirees Act would waive Medicare Part B premiums for retirees and spouses who began service before June 7, 1956. The bill also would open up the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan to military retirees and their families. In addition, Tricare beneficiaries in nursing homes who do not have access to a retail pharmacy would pay no more than Tricare network rates for their pharmacy services.

ARMED FORCES NEWS
MEDICARE BILL AFFECTS MILITARY RETIREE SENIORS
November 28, 2003


In addition to civilian pharmacy benefits covered by the Medicare Prescription bill that the Senate passed Nov. 25, four items will impact on Medicare-eligible military retirees and their families. First, the bill will eliminate late enrollment penalties for Medicare-eligibles who want to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to participate in Tricare for Life. Second, it will replace a planned 4.5 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors with a 1.5 percent increase, thus encouraging doctors rather than deterring them from taking Medicare (Tricare for Life) patients. Next, it will eliminate the annual $1,500 cap on Medicare physical therapy payments. Finally, it will establish a means test for Medicare Part B participation, creating higher premiums beginning at the $80,000 annual income level. The President has said he is anxious to sign the bill.

ARMED FORCES NEWS
HIGHLIGHTS OF VETERANS BENEFITS ACT
November 28, 2003


The Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 restores Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, home loans, education and burial benefits for surviving spouses who remarry after age 57. Those who remarried at age 57 or older before the bill was passed will be grandfathered if they apply for reinstatement within a year. The bill also raises educational payments for spouses and children of veterans whose deaths were service-
connected from $695 to $788 per month for full-time study, from $522 to $592 for three-quarter time study, and from $347 to $394 for part-time study. And it adds self-employment training programs and entrepreneurship courses to the Montgomery G.I. Bill. Under another provision, former POWs no longer will have a 30-day minimum requirement to qualify for presumption of certain service-connected disabilities.
 

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