December 2006

ARMED FORCES NEWS
COMBAT-RELATED SPECIAL COMP & CONCURRENT RETIREMENT & DISABILITY PAY
December 8, 2006


After two months of reviewing records of veterans who are drawing Combat-Related Special Compensation and Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay, a total of $45 million in "retro pay" has gone to 31,000 recipients. Payments have averaged $1,500, with some ranging as high as $25,000. Most of the money came from the Department of Veterans Affairs, with some additional funds provided by the Defense Department, depending upon which agency was responsible for the payments. This first phase of record reviews of 140,000 military retirees was the easiest, said officials. Coming next will be an evaluation of cases with missing information to be traced. Following that will be files that must be analyzed manually.

ARMED FORCES NEWS
CONGRESS FIXES MEDICARE, TRICARE
December 15, 2006

In a last minute move, Congress cancelled a 5.1 percent cut in Medicare (and thus Tricare) payments to providers that was to kick in on Jan. 1, 2007. Conference negotiators agreed on Dec. 7 to keep Medicare payments at the 2006 rates, and both houses passed the issue on Dec. 9 just before Congress adjourned. The measure also contains a provision to pay medical providers an additional 1.5 percent in the second half of 2007 if they report data on the quality of their care using measures specified by the government. The planned 5.1 percent cut was expected to cause a number of providers to stop accepting new Medicare-eligible patients or to opt out of Medicare entirely. The fix for 2007 ignores future statutory requirements to slash Medicare payments by more than 30 percent over the next seven years.
 

ARMED FORCES NEWS
VA FACILITATES HALF-PRICE PRESCRIPTIONS
December 15, 2006

The Department of Veterans Affairs is helping some veterans get generic prescriptions for half the VA price. Veterans in health care priority categories 4 through 8 normally must make an$8 co-pay for drugs from the VA that might be available at the $4 rate being offered by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Target Corp. VA deputy undersecretary William Feeley has told VA providers they can write prescriptions that can be filled at any private-sector pharmacy. They cannot transfer the veterans' prescriptions directly to a private-sector pharmacy, but they can write new prescriptions if they meet state requirements and cancel existing VA prescriptions. For the $4 drugs available at Wal-Mart, visit http://i.walmart.com/i/if/hmp/fusion/genericdruglist.pdf, and for the Target drugs go to http://sites.target.com/images/pharmacy/pharmacy_4dollar_program_list.pdf.

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