The Officer November/December 2011 : Page 14

TAKING THE HILL CAPT MARSHALL A. HANSON, USNR (RET.) ROA DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION CAPITOL HILL CONNECTION – CAPITOL VIEW Confrontational approach to Capitol can backfire. heard an individual—who is a veteran representative for one of America’s largest financial companies—say outside of a recent meeting that the veteran service organizations should put away their differences and together march on the Capitol. Th is old school mentality of confrontation reminded me of the 1932 Bonus Army that camped out near the Capitol, only to be driven away by the Army. Known as the Bonus Expeditionary Force, about 43,000 marchers composed of World War I veterans, wives, and children entered Washington, D.C., demanding immediate cash payment on service certificates authorized by Congress in 1924 in recognition of their service. Awarded under the World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924, the bonus certificates were not redeemable until 1945. This practice of paying wartime bonuses wasn’t new. It actually began after the American Revolutionary War when most of the Continental Army was demobilized without being paid for more than two years. Those bonuses were intended to pay the income difference between what a Soldier was paid and what he might have earned if he hadn’t enlisted. While not offered to Spanish American War veterans, World War I veterans were offered only a $60 bonus—equivalent to about $1,000 today. With unemployment impacting many veterans at the beginning of the Great Depression, this march on Washington, D.C., reflected the urgent need for cash versus paper promises. But the tactic backfired. As Washington, D.C., is exempt from Posse Comitatus Act restrictions, which do not allow the military to perform law enforcement, the Army confronted the veterans who bivouacked at a Hooverville camp on Anacostia Flats. After an altercation between veterans and the Washington, D.C. police, where two veterans were killed, the Army was ordered in to evict the veterans and their families by force. This was done with tanks, fixed bayonets, and adamsite gas, a vomiting agent. In the end, 55 veterans were injured, 135 arrested, and one infant died in addition to the previous two veterans killed. So, what has this got to do with ROA and current legislative strategies? Many ROA members want national headquarters 14 THE to do battle on Capitol Hill. They view this as a fight, where serving military and veterans are the good guys, and elected representatives are the bad. As an example, one anonymous caller left a voice mail complaining that ROA doesn’t support the early retirement correction for mobilization back to Sept. 11, 2001, and just as his Virginia senators were doing nothing, neither is ROA. Sadly, some ROA members seem to have forgotten that ROA has been a true leader on the early retirement issue. In 2007, ROA wrote the current legislation—the National Guardsmen and Reservists Parity for Patriots Act—which was then introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R–S.C.). A proactive strategy, it was written in anticipation of a needed correction to language, before being signed into law, which limited early retirement credit to those who served after Jan. 28, 2008. Since then, ROA has been one of the more vocal groups on Capitol Hill and has worked with the Senate for inclusion of similar language each time the House failed to include it in the National Defense Authorization. Unfortunately, in 2011, the deficit debate has suffocated any possibility of needed improvements to current U.S. Code if an issue is unfunded, no matter how justifiable it may be. ROA must study the terra incognita before executing a strategy. ROA recognizes that some frustrated members want action—a declaration of total warfare. While ROA members could prematurely write Congress about the issue, it would be like firing a volley on the battlefield before an enemy has closed. Or headquarters could suggest that ROA members grab the pitchforks and torches and storm The Hill, but that tactic is akin to the success of bayonet charges against machine gun nests during the trench warfare in World War I. Success on Capitol Hill is based on building relationships rather than burning bridges. Applying persistent pressure, working coalitions with other associations, and finding allies on Capitol Hill are the tactics along the path that leads to achievement. Such tactics take place more behind the scenes, and are thus analogous to the low intensity conflicts of this century that mix confrontation with diplomacy. [ O FFICER / N OVEMBER –D ECEMBER 2011

Capitol Hill Connection

CAPT Marshall A. Hanson

TAKING THE HILL<br /> <br /> CAPT MARSHALL A. HANSON, USNR (RET.) ROA DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION<br /> <br /> Confrontational approach to Capitol can backfire.<br /> <br /> I heard an individual—who is a veteran representative for one of America’s largest financial companies—say outside of a recent meeting that the veteran service organizations should put away their differences and together march on the Capitol. This old school mentality of confrontation reminded me of the 1932 Bonus Army that camped out near the Capitol, only to be driven away by the Army.<br /> <br /> Known as the Bonus Expeditionary Force, about 43,000 marchers composed of World War I veterans, wives, and children entered Washington, D.C., demanding immediate cash payment on service certificates authorized by Congress in 1924 in recognition of their service. Awarded under the World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924, the bonus certificates were not redeemable until 1945.<br /> <br /> This practice of paying wartime bonuses wasn’t new. It actually began after the American Revolutionary War when most of the Continental Army was demobilized without being paid for more than two years. Those bonuses were intended to pay the income difference between what a Soldier was paid and what he might have earned if he hadn’t enlisted. While not offered to Spanish American War veterans, World War I veterans were offered only a $60 bonus—equivalent to about $1,000 today.<br /> <br /> With unemployment impacting many veterans at the beginning of the Great Depression, this march on Washington,D. C., reflected the urgent need for cash versus paper promises.But the tactic backfired.<br /> <br /> As Washington, D.C., is exempt from Posse Comitatus Act restrictions, which do not allow the military to perform law enforcement, the Army confronted the veterans who bivouacked at a Hooverville camp on Anacostia Flats. After an altercation between veterans and the Washington, D.C. police, where two veterans were killed, the Army was ordered in to evict the veterans and their families by force. This was done with tanks, fixed bayonets, and adamsite gas, a vomiting agent.In the end, 55 veterans were injured, 135 arrested, and one infant died in addition to the previous two veterans killed.<br /> <br /> So, what has this got to do with ROA and current legislative strategies? Many ROA members want national headquarters to do battle on Capitol Hill. They view this as a fight, where serving military and veterans are the good guys, and elected representatives are the bad.<br /> <br /> As an example, one anonymous caller left a voice mail complaining that ROA doesn’t support the early retirement correction for mobilization back to Sept. 11, 2001, and just as his Virginia senators were doing nothing, neither is ROA. Sadly, some ROA members seem to have forgotten that ROA has been a true leader on the early retirement issue.<br /> <br /> In 2007, ROA wrote the current legislation—the National Guardsmen and Reservists Parity for Patriots Act—which was then introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R–S.C.). A proactive strategy, it was written in anticipation of a needed correction to language, before being signed into law, which limited early retirement credit to those who served after Jan. 28, 2008. Since then, ROA has been one of the more vocal groups on Capitol Hill and has worked with the Senate for inclusion of similar language each time the House failed to include it in the National Defense Authorization.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, in 2011, the deficit debate has suffocated any possibility of needed improvements to current U.S. Code if an issue is unfunded, no matter how justifiable it may be. ROA must study the terra incognita before executing a strategy.<br /> <br /> ROA recognizes that some frustrated members want action—a declaration of total warfare. While ROA members could prematurely write Congress about the issue, it would be like firing a volley on the battlefield before an enemy has closed. Or headquarters could suggest that ROA members grab the pitchforks and torches and storm The Hill, but that tactic is akin to the success of bayonet charges against machine gun nests during the trench warfare in World War I.<br /> <br /> Success on Capitol Hill is based on building relationships rather than burning bridges. Applying persistent pressure, working coalitions with other associations, and finding allies on Capitol Hill are the tactics along the path that leads to achievement.<br /> <br /> Such tactics take place more behind the scenes, and are thus analogous to the low intensity conflicts of this century that mix confrontation with diplomacy.<br /> <br /> NO FALLING SKY<br /> <br /> CAPT MARSHALL A. HANSON, USNR (RET.) ROA DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION<br /> <br /> Active retirement changes are more fiction than fact.<br /> <br /> A fable: Colonel C.K. Little looked up at the clear sky a bit confused.As a gray-area retiree, he had a number of years to go before receiving his retirement pay and, according to some associations, clouds were gathering that threatened his annuity.<br /> <br /> One eager association sent out a warning to the colonel stating that he should contact Congress to aggressively oppose recommendations to the Pentagon to eliminate the current military retirement system.And Col. Little had seen with his own eyes articles about this recommendation.<br /> <br /> In July, the Defense Business Board (De-Be-Be) was briefed by an internal task group that suggested changes to the military retirement system, saying that the current system was “unaffordable.”<br /> <br /> It was recommended to the board that military retirement compensation be altered from a defined benefit to a defined contribution as private sector plans have done, using a 401(k)- style approach.<br /> <br /> One rationale for it was that military retirement funds can’t be invested into higher yielding equities and bonds.<br /> <br /> A suggested comprehensive solution would be a plan based on the existing Uniformed Military Personnel Thrift Savings Plan, with the government providing annual contributions.This option would allow for the military member to make contributions as well, with the member being vested between three to five years.<br /> <br /> Another money-saving idea would make the suggested plan payable between ages 60 and 65. Partial withdrawals could be made to cover education, health care, or other specified emergencies. The plan would be funded at a percentage level comparable to the highest end of a private-sector pension plan.<br /> <br /> This made Col. Little nervous, because he had heard, with his own ears, that immediate cuts had to be made from defense if there were to be any expected savings. This made his head hurt, because the logic presented in the De-Be-Be plan also contained a number of myths, such as what is the real yield on equities and bonds in this economy, or if serving members could make partial withdrawals, what value would be left for retirement?<br /> <br /> Although he was warned that this was already the Pentagon’s plan, his thoughts suggested that this wasn’t right, that it would take time before a report was sent by De-Be-Be and analyzed by the Pentagon, and that the Department of Defense would then have to propose legislation to Congress. He also had heard with his own ears reassurances from the secretary of defense that any change would not impact those currently in uniform, even though reform might be considered in a broad form.<br /> <br /> At this point, it struck Col. Little that there was just too much input, so he turned to ROA to avoid running around in circles. After all, ROA had been following this issue since proposals were published in 2003.<br /> <br /> ROA advised Col. Little that this issue was not yet ready to hatch. Congress, which would make the final decision, had not yet bought into the concept of radically changing military retirement. The De-Be-Be recommendation had no traction on Capitol Hill.<br /> <br /> Instead, subtler change was being considered that wouldn’t affect retirees but would impact those currently serving. This was to change the “High-3” to a “High-5” calculation upon retirement. (Currently, if someone joined the military after Sept. 8 1980, his or her last 36 months of pay are averaged to calculate the starting retirement pay. A change suggested by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform would increase that to a 60-month average, if accepted.)<br /> <br /> ROA then reassured Col. Little that, for once, being in the Guard or Reserve worked in his favor, as his pay continued to go up even while he was in the gray area. Worst case, his High- 5 would be in those final years, just before he was paid. It would be based on an even higher pay level than when he retired from the Selected Reserve, should such legislation get passed.<br /> <br /> For a more in-depth analysis, go to www.roa.org/ retirementchange. Seriously, no fable.<br /> <br /> PINS AND NEEDLES<br /> <br /> LAUREN WILKINS MILITARY LEGISLATIVE ANALYST<br /> <br /> Super Committee requirements make DoD nervous.<br /> <br /> Congress’s Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will recommend a plan to Congress by Thanksgiving that cuts at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget. The Department of Defense (DoD) worries that the plan could bring potentially devastating cuts to security spending.<br /> <br /> The super committee—the Joint Select Committee—must agree to a budget reduction plan by Nov. 23, and Congress must pass it by Dec. 23, or else up to $600 billion will be automatically cut from security spending. Even in the best-case scenario, the $1.2 trillion in cuts proposed by the committee could put all security agencies, even DoD, in a precarious budget situation.<br /> <br /> Whether the committee agrees to a reduction plan or the sequester cuts are triggered, federal budget reduction could heavily impact security spending—including the budgets of the Departments of Defense, State, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, as well as the National Nuclear Security Administration, the intelligence community, and various other international affairs organizations.<br /> <br /> The new umbrella of security spending used in the Budget Control Act of 2011 may have been an attempt by the government to streamline the budget for national security.However, the threat of large budget cuts has caused individual departments to seek out support from lawmakers—possibly at the expense of the greater national security goal.<br /> <br /> Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides argued in remarks made at the Center for American Progress that “[the Department of] State and USAID [United States Agency for International Development] and the military are working more closely together in places around the world than ever in our history,” to ensure national security in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. “Our goal is to match our spending on diplomacy and development and the military with our national security challenges.” But the State Department and USAID have already been hit with a 13.6 percent budget cut for 2011 and face even larger cuts for Fiscal Year 2012.<br /> <br /> Since the Joint Select Committee appointments were announced in early August, security spending advocates have lobbied hard to defend the budgets of their respective departments. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has voiced concerns several times regarding additional defense cuts. During a press event at the National Defense University in August, Secretary Panetta said additional cuts “would have devastating effects on our national defense.”<br /> <br /> This level of discussion focused on defense spending has raised concerns among other security agencies. The State Department and Department of Homeland Security fear that, in an effort to shield DoD and preserve the support of service members, veterans and defense industry employees among their constituencies, members of the Joint Select Committee will look to the other agencies under the security umbrella for spending cuts.<br /> <br /> Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department have attempted to establish, in the minds of legislators and American voters, that the diplomatic work of the State Department is equally as essential to national security as defense spending. While committee members may agree on the importance of diplomacy, the voices of serving and veteran constituencies as well as advocates for the defense industry may drown out the appeals of other security agencies.<br /> <br /> In response to threats against certain veteran benefits, for example, the Veterans of Foreign Wars said in a press release, “[A plan to cut benefits] is a breach of faith with America’s military and veteran families, and the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries is calling upon his 2 million members to fight it.”<br /> <br /> What cuts are proposed by the super committee remain to be seen. According to DoD, further cuts to defense could cause a “doomsday” scenario. As Secretary Panetta explained, “[O]ur national security is our military power, our Defense Department, but it’s also our diplomatic power and the State Department.” Though leaders acknowledge the importance of a collective security effort, the cuts must come from somewhere.The question now stands: Who will be on the chopping block first?<br /> <br /> REDUCTION ROSTER<br /> <br /> LAUREN WILKINS MILITARY LEGISLATIVE ANALYST<br /> <br /> Influential backgrounds shape super committee membership.<br /> <br /> As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction deliberates on a federal budget reduction plan, the personalities and backgrounds of the committee’s members could be extremely influential in their decision-making. Following is a brief profile of all 12 members of this congressional super committee. Many represent constituencies made up of service members and Department of Defense installations.<br /> <br /> Committee co-chairs are Sen. Patty Murray (D–Wash.) And Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R–Texas).<br /> <br /> Sen. Murray (D–Wash.), who was elected in 1992, chairs the Veterans Affairs Committee and sits on the Senate Budget Committee, among others. She is also the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Sen. Murray represents six military installations in the state of Washington.<br /> <br /> Rep. Hensarling is currently vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Rep. Hensarling has been described as a financial hawk, and his strong fiscally conservative stance suggests he will oppose tax hikes and support entitlement spending cuts.<br /> <br /> As for the other senators on the committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–Nev.) Appointed Sen. Max Baucus (D– Mont.) To the committee. Sen. Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee and serves on the Agriculture and the Environment and Public Works Committees. He was influential in the passage of the Affordable Care Act and will likely be a strong advocate for Medicare and Medicaid. He also represents one military installation.<br /> <br /> Sen. John Kerry (D–Mass.) Was also appointed to the super committee. He currently serves on the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. He also chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A member of the U.S. Navy from 1966– 1970, he served two tours in Vietnam. He represents six military installations in Massachusetts.<br /> <br /> Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.)Appointed Sen. Jon Kyl (R–Ariz.), a third-term senator who served four terms in the House before his election to the Senate. Sen. Kyl serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over topics from trade and commerce to constitutional amendments.<br /> <br /> Sen. McConnell also selected Sen. Rob Portman (R– Ohio), a freshman senator who spent 12 years in the House.Senator Portman serves on the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Ohio is home to two military installations.<br /> <br /> Another freshman member is Sen. Pat Toomey (R–Pa.), who serves on the Senate Budget Committee; the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; and the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Sen. Toomey represents Pennsylvania’s four military installations.<br /> <br /> From the House, committee member Fred Upton (R–Mich.)Has represented southwest Michigan in the House since 1987.He serves as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Formally nicknamed “Young Slasher” for his push for reduced spending early in his career, Rep. Upton has earned a reputation for being tough on entitlement programs and bigbudget federal spending.<br /> <br /> Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner’s third House pick for the super committee is another from the Great Lakes State, Rep. Dave Camp (R–Mich.). Rep. Camp is chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, which handles legislation dealing with tax policy as well as entitlement programs.<br /> <br /> Appointed to the committee by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) Is Rep. James E. Clyburn (D–S.C.). A staunch advocate for entitlement programs, Rep. Clyburn has served in the House since 1993. He is the No. 3 Democrat in the House and serves as Democratic leadership liaison to the House Appropriations Committee.<br /> <br /> Rep. Pelosi also appointed Rep. Xavier Becerra (D–Calif.), who was elected in 2003. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and serves as vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.<br /> <br /> The final House member on the super committee is Rep.Chris Van Hollen (D–Md.). Rep. Van Hollen was majority leader of the Maryland State Senate before being elected to Congress in 2002, and is the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee.<br /> <br /> CHINA PURCHASES POWER<br /> <br /> CAPT MARSHALL A. HANSON, USNR (RET.) ROA DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION<br /> <br /> Undervalued yuan modernizes military.<br /> <br /> When the Pentagon released its annual assessment last August of China’s military capabilities, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute contravened that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) budget is more than six times that of China’s defense budget. China announced that its annual defense budget is $91.5 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, while the U.S. defense budget is reported at about $700 billion.<br /> <br /> Yet, comparing the actual value of the two countries’ defense dollars is like comparing a Washington Red Delicious Apple with a Chinese Mandarin Orange, with both smelling a little overripe. Defense numbers can prove quite mutable.<br /> <br /> While President Obama requested a defense budget of $708.2 billion for 2011, his baseline request was for $549 billion. The request also included $159.3 billion to support overseas contingency operations. Though the overall budget is higher by $16 billion than last year, the DoD Discretionary Budget Authority dropped by 17 percent.<br /> <br /> The president’s request included $8.1 billion for family services, $16.9 billion for military construction, $19.7 billion for basic allowance for housing, and $50.7 billion for the unified DoD medical budget. Another $49.6 billion is budgeted for the Reserve Component and $26.5 billion for non-DoD defense– related expenses. This is $171.5 billion with few comparisons in the Chinese budget. A better comparison to China’s budget is about $377.5 billion to maintain U.S. defense for FY 11.<br /> <br /> Unlike the U.S. budget request, China’s defense figures shy away from specific systems and capabilities. Further, the official Chinese defense budget figure excludes nuclear arms spending, foreign weapons purchases, and defense research and development (R&D), reports the World Politics Review.The administration requested $80.9 billion for R&D in FY 11, reducing the U.S. defense budget comparison to $296.6 billion.<br /> <br /> The value of the Chinese defense budget should also be adjusted for purchase power parity (PPP). PPP originated from the concept that in absence of transaction costs and elimination of official barriers to trade, identical goods will have the same price in different markets when the prices are expressed in terms of one currency. Such adjustment allows for an undervalued Chinese yuan, cheap labor, and subsidized material costs.<br /> <br /> The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) calculates the PPP for China to be a factor of 1.72 percent. This means that China’s published $91.5 billion actually would be at least $157 billion in U.S. dollars. But the CIA PPP numbers are based on a gross domestic product average, not a military procurement index.<br /> <br /> Using 2010 prices and exchange rates, Dod estimated China’s total military-related spending to be $160 billion rather than the $77.95 billion announced by the Chinese. Using those 2010 numbers to determine a factor for 2011, China’s defense budget would rise to $187.8 billion.<br /> <br /> Shen Dingli, an international affairs analyst, said China’s 2010 military spending, at $78 billion in PPP terms, is nearly half as much as the U.S. military budget (excluding antiterrorist expenditure). GlobalSecurity.org estimates that when the 2011 Chinese defense budget is adjusted, it is more like $400 billion.<br /> <br /> While the United States may seem to be investing six times that of its closest peer, when numbers are adjusted it appears to be closer to a parity of two to one, if not one to one. Add in a Russian military buildup and Iranian challenges to the United States, and threats are ever present.<br /> <br /> Comparisons aside, China’s defense budget has grown at double digits over the past 10 to 20 years. It has risen 200 percent since 2001, increasing 12.7 percent between 2010 and 2011. The DoD assessment states: “Over the past decade, China’s military has benefitted from robust investment in modern hardware and technology. Many modern systems have reached maturity, and others will become operational in the next few years.”<br /> <br /> Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, recognized this at a Pentagon briefing about the report.“The pace and scope of China’s sustained military investment have allowed China to pursue capabilities that we believe are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances, increase the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation, and may contribute to regional tensions and anxieties,” he warned.<br /> <br /> Perhaps China hopes to develop its own version of “peace through strength.” But with its territorial claims to the South China Sea and periodic threats to independent Taiwan, China risks destabilizing Asia while preparing for a possible confrontation with the United States.<br /> <br /> PHARM FEARS<br /> <br /> CAPT MARSHALL A. HANSON, USNR (RET.) ROA DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION<br /> <br /> Dissolved partnership could affect Tricare beneficiaries.<br /> <br /> Two pharmaceutical giants are wrestling for control of a portion of the retail pharmacy market. Unfortunately, when someone gets pinned, it might be Tricare drug beneficiaries. Department of Defense (DoD) health affairs officials, however, promise that beneficiaries will retain access to the prescriptions they need.<br /> <br /> Walgreens announced in June that, as of Jan. 1, 2012, it will terminate its contract partnership with Express Scripts Inc. (ESI), the contracted pharmacy benefits manager for DoD.<br /> <br /> If nothing changes, beginning next year, the ESI network will not include Walgreens pharmacies or Duane Reade stores (owned by Walgreens). Each organization accuses the other of terminating discussions, and each claims the other is trying to negotiate higher profits.<br /> <br /> Walgreens and ESI have both sent letters to beneficiaries explaining their case. Military Times reported that these letters have led to beneficiary confusion and frustration.<br /> <br /> “Don’t let the advertising, letter, and Internet outreach campaigns scare you,” cautioned Navy RADM Christine Hunter, then deputy director of the Tricare Management Activity (TMA).Because of the confusion caused by these letters, TMA held a conference call with ROA and other beneficiary associations.<br /> <br /> RADM Hunter emphasized that Tricare was not involved in negotiations and that it was a business matter between the two companies.<br /> <br /> If a Tricare pharmacy program beneficiary currently uses a Walgreens pharmacy, Walgreens will continue to fill prescriptions through Dec. 31, 2011. But on Jan. 1, 2012, that Tricare beneficiary may have to pay the full prescription price upfront to Walgreens and then request reimbursement from Tricare.<br /> <br /> One option for beneficiaries is to use another pharmacy. ESI reports that, on average, another Tricare network pharmacy is within two blocks of a Walgreens. The only thing necessary to transfer a prescription between retailers is the pill bottle. The new retailer can call ESI directly to authorize the change. Excluding Walgreens, more than 55,000 pharmacies remain in the Tricare network.<br /> <br /> Another option for beneficiaries is to transfer a maintenance prescription to Tricare Pharmacy Home Delivery, which is also managed by ESI. Through this option, beneficiaries can receive a 90-day supply of medication at the same copayment cost as a retail 30-day supply. Refills can come automatically, and ESI will contact a beneficiary’s doctor directly to renew the prescription.Beneficiaries also may speak to a pharmacist by phone any time, day or night.<br /> <br /> DEFICIT REDUCTION PLAN COULD INCREASE MILITARY RETIREMENT COSTS<br /> <br /> President Barack Obama announced his plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction in late September. Unfortunately, the plan included a recommendation to increase costs for benefits to retirees and military families.<br /> <br /> Viewed as modest by the White House, annual fees would begin for Tricare For Life, with a $200 annual fee in Fiscal Year 2013. It would increase annually if recommended by the secretary of defense and would be in addition to Part B Medicare premiums.<br /> <br /> Additionally, the president suggested adjusting Tricare pharmacy co-payments to more closely match those of federal employee health plans by shifting retail pharmacies from dollar co-payments to percentage co-payments, starting at 10 percent for generic drugs and increasing to 20 percent. Brand-name and nonformulary drugs would start with a 15 percent co-payment that would rise to 30 percent over time. Mail-order generics would be free, but brand drugs would increase to a $20 co-payment and $35 co-payment for non-formulary, with each eventually increasing to a $40 co-payment.<br /> <br /> The president also recommended establishing a commission to modernize military retirement benefits. This would follow a Base Realignment and Closure process, where the Congress could either accept or reject the suggested changes from the commission.<br /> <br /> Congress must still accept these suggestions and pass them into law, before any change can occur, however.<br /> <br /> ROA voiced concerns over the plan and later participated in a White House teleconference where staff detailed these recommendations. A congressional alert letter is available at the ROA website www.roa.org/Write2Congress for those wishing to contact their representatives. ROA will work to sustain the current benefits as outlined in National Resolution 10-29. —MAH

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