"Latest Update from National Headquarters"
July 3, 2020
The House Armed Services Committee approved their version of the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-H.R.6395) and sent it to the House for further consideration. Rep. John Garamendi (Calif.) offered an amendment that includes the provisions of the Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act (H.R.463), which would authorize the retention of the full final month's retired pay by the surviving spouse (or other designated survivor) for the month in which the member was alive for at least 24 hours. Rep. Elaine Luria (Va.) offered an amendment to waive TRICARE pharmacy co-pays during the pandemic and another amendment that allows young adults to stay on their parents' TRICARE plan until age 26. All three amendments were withdrawn. The bill will now go the House floor for further consideration.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved their version of the NDAA on June 10, which is now on the Senate floor awaiting further consideration, including some floor amendments. After both chambers approve their version of the NDAA, a conference committee will be appointed to resolve the differences between the two bills. Once that occurs, both chambers will vote on the final bill. If approved, it will go to the president to be signed into law or vetoed.
Both the House and Senate will be considering floor amendments to their versions of the NDAA, and the FRA is expecting floor amendments to include:
- Waiving co-pay for prescriptions filled during the pandemic;
- Expanding concurrent receipt eligibility for certain medically retired veterans;
- The Military Retiree Survivor Comfort Act (H.R.463) that would authorize the retention of the full final month's retired pay by the surviving spouse for the month in which the member was alive for at least 24 hours; and
- Authorize the National Academy of Medicine to perform an independent study to determine if Agent Orange was or was not used in Guam.
TRICARE Select Enrollment Fees Beginning 2021
Those TRICARE Select beneficiaries under age 65 and joining the military before Jan. 1, 2018 (Group A) are scheduled to pay a monthly fee beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The monthly fee for an individual is $12.50 and $25 for a family. These and other fee increases were opposed by the FRA and were authorized by the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-S.2943-P.L. 114-328).
The Defense Health Agency announced that these beneficiaries will being receiving a communication from their regional contractors with instructions on how to set up payments. The DHA notes that failure to pay will mean loss of coverage until the following open enrollment period. For more information about the fees please go online.
ANC Reduces Restrictions for Funerals
Arlington National Cemetery will now allow more people to attend funerals. The ANC will now allow up to 50 people at gravesites during military funerals, an increase from the 10-person limit that went into effect in March. The cemetery will also begin offering more honors at funerals such as gun salutes, body bearers, buglers and drummers. These elements of the burial ceremony had been curtailed for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic. "Arlington National Cemetery will continue to balance activities to protect our workforce, funeral attendees and family pass holders while we work to accomplish our most sacred mission in this [COVID-19] environment," said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of the cemetery.
The restrictions have been reduced because coronavirus cases in the Washington area are trending down, the cemetery said in a statement. In Washington, Maryland and Virginia, hospitalizations were trending down. The ANC is in phase two of its four-phase plan. Phase three is expected to include opening the cemetery to the public, with some restrictions in place.
As of now, the cemetery will remain closed to anyone except family pass holders and funeral attendees. Anyone who enters is required to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing. Family pass holders and funeral attendees are allowed only to visit their loved one's grave, and then exit the cemetery when they are done. While the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority reopened 15 Metro train stations Monday, the Arlington National Cemetery stop remains closed.
The FRA National Convention Postponed
In lieu of the ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the FRA's National Board of Directors voted this week during their meeting to postpone the 93rd (2020) National Convention for one year. The new dates are September 25, 2021 to October 2, 2021. The venue and location are the same, Portland, Oregon.
FRA Holiday Email/NHQ Closed Friday
Be on the lookout for an email: "Happy 4th to you from FRA." The FRA's National Headquarters (NHQ) offices will be closed on Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day. NHQ staff wants to wish all FRA Shipmates a fun and safe 4th of July.
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