MOAA Responds to 2017 Defense Bill

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The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) issued the following statement in response to the president signing the annual defense bill in advance of the holidays.

This is one of the most important and comprehensive defense bills passed in many years, and we are pleased with the broad consensus on compensation and healthcare.

President Barack Obama signed into law Friday the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) issued the following statement in response to the president signing the annual defense bill in advance of the holidays.

“This is one of the most important and comprehensive defense bills passed in many years, and we are pleased with the broad consensus on compensation and healthcare,” said MOAA president and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins.

Acknowledging the congressional achievement, Atkins said, “We appreciate the magnitude of effort by the Armed Services committee members. Even in this tough fiscal environment, Congress found a way to treat military people fairly, resolving hundreds of differences between their respective versions of the bill, accommodating MOAA’s and The Military Coalition’s recommendations on most of them.

Atkins also pointed out, “MOAA believes the health care reforms required in the new law are positive steps toward our goal of improving beneficiaries’ access to quality health care and elimination of administrative hassles beneficiaries have experienced too often.

“All in all, the vast majority of NDAA issues reflect the positive outcomes of our advocacy,” Atkins concluded.

The 2017 NDAA puts into law new requirements spanning many of DoD’s programs. Most notably, it will entail sweeping changes for the military health care system.

This legislation puts into law a number of MOAA’s advocacy priorities. Specifically, it:

  • Secures a 2.1 percent military pay raise versus the 1.6 percent pay raise proposed by the administration. The 2.1 percent pay raise matches the average American’s, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index.
  • Stops the force drawdown and actually increases manpower levels, especially for the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.
  • Requires an array of reforms to improve beneficiaries’ access to timely and high-quality health care.
  • Protects currently serving and retired beneficiaries from a variety of steep TRICARE fee increases proposed in the administration’s budget.
  • Rejects a Senate proposal to cut housing allowances by $10,000 to $30,000 a year for dual-military couples and other servicemembers who share housing.
  • Provides needed survivor benefit improvements: (a) extending the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) until May 2018 at $310 per month, and (b) increasing Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities for survivors of reservists who die during Inactive Duty Training, to match benefits provided for active duty deaths.

The long list of health care improvement requirements are aimed at addressing the systemic and chronic problems MOAA and others have highlighted with beneficiary access (appointments and referrals), quality of care and safety and consistency of care.

They include changes in contracting, appointment and referral processes and holding medical providers and commanders more accountable for productivity and consistency of beneficiary-centric care, especially in military facilities.

One major aspect affecting TRICARE Standard beneficiaries is a change to this program, effective Jan. 1, 2018, to a preferred provider organization called TRICARE Select. Another big difference is all non-Medicare-eligible retired beneficiaries will be required to formally enroll every year in either TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select, starting in 2018. Previously, only TRICARE Prime required a formal annual enrollment.

The Prime option, though largely unchanged, will be modernized such that the majority of referrals to specialists from primary care managers will no longer be required to go through a cumbersome pre-authorization process. Pre-authorizations for urgent care also will no longer be required.

To learn more about the NDAA and how it affects you and your family, visit http://www.MOAA.org to stay current on the latest developments.

About MOAA:
Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is the nation’s largest officers association with more than 355,000 members from every branch of service, including active duty, retired, National Guard, Reserve, and former officers and their families and survivors. MOAA is a nonprofit and politically nonpartisan organization and an influential force in promoting a strong national defense. MOAA represents the interests of servicemembers and their families in every stage of their lives and careers, and for those who are not eligible to join MOAA, Voices for America’s Troops is a nonprofit MOAA affiliate that supports a strong national defense. For more information, visit http://www.moaa.org or http://www.voicesfortroops.org.

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Military Officers Association of America
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