September2006

ARMED FORCES NEWS
TRICARE MAIL ORDER PUSH RUFFLES FEATHERS
September 6, 2006

The Defense Department encourages Tricare beneficiaries to use the Tricare mail order pharmacy system because it costs DoD about 40 percent less than Tricare retail pharmacies, and it saves patients about 66 percent. The move angers retail pharmacists, however, because they lose income when a Tricare patient switches to mail order. In addition, some drugs with a short shelf life might decay in the mail system, while others may not be kept at the proper temperature en route, according to industry spokespersons. Moreover, some Tricare beneficiaries resent the loss of personal contact with their local pharmacist. The House version of the fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill would raise co-payments at retail pharmacies but eliminate co-pays for mail orders, while the Senate version would freeze copays at the current rate and require all maintenance drugs to be purchased by mail order. A vote is expected in September.
 

ARMED FORCES NEWS
BREAKTHROUGH ON TRICARE RETAIL DRUG COSTS

September 15, 2006

On Sept. 7, the House voted to have its representatives on the fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill conference committee accept the Senate plan for Tricare drug discounts. Under the Senate version, drug companies would be required to provide Tricare the same retail discounts given to pharmacy systems operated by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently DoD pays about $100 more per prescription for drugs distributed through its Tricare retail pharmacies than those in the mail order system, a difference that has driven the department to seek higher co-pays in the retail system. Presumably this breakthrough, which would save DoD $400 million a year, would eliminate its plan for increased copays and other initiatives intended to force retail pharmacy users into the mail order system. 
 

ARMED FORCES NEWS
AGENT ORANGE CLAIMS URGED FOR SHIPBOARD VETS
September 22, 2006


Naval personnel who served aboard ship in Vietnamese waters and earned the Vietnam Service Medal but never went ashore in Vietnam are being encouraged to file disability claims if they suffer conditions they believe to be related to Agent Orange. Both Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and the National Veterans Legal Service Program are urging such vets to apply because of an Aug. 16 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims that opened the door to such claims. The VA considers the following disabilities to be associated with Agent Orange: chloracne, Type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers and soft-tissue sarcomas. Survivors of veterans who died from Agent Orange disabilities should consider applying for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

 

ARMED FORCES NEWS
VA ID CARDS BEING UPDATED
September 22, 2006


In 1998, in response to the concerns of ill Gulf War veterans, Congress directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to contract with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review and evaluate what had become known as the
Gulf War Syndrome. The NAS's Institute of Medicine (IOM) made the study, and on Sept. 12 reported that, "although veterans of the first Gulf War report significantly more symptoms of illness than soldiers of the same period who were not deployed, studies have found no cluster of symptoms that constitute a syndrome unique to Gulf War veterans." The committee did find evidence of a possible elevated rate of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) among Gulf War veterans, but found no increase in deaths and hospitalizations. The committee recommended "further surveillance" of rates of testicular cancer, brain cancer,and certain birth defects in connection with Gulf War veterans.
 

ARMED FORCES NEWS
REPORT DISPUTES GULF WAR SYNDROME
September 22, 2006


In 1998, in response to the concerns of ill Gulf War veterans, Congress directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to contract with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review and evaluate what had become known as the
Gulf War Syndrome. The NAS's Institute of Medicine (IOM) made the study, and on Sept. 12 reported that, "although veterans of the first Gulf War report significantly more symptoms of illness than soldiers of the same period who were not deployed, studies have found no cluster of symptoms that constitute a syndrome unique to Gulf War veterans." The committee did find evidence of a possible elevated rate of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) among Gulf War veterans, but found no increase in deaths and hospitalizations. The committee recommended "further surveillance" of rates of testicular cancer, brain cancer,and certain birth defects in connection with Gulf War veterans.
 

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