The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 was passed by Congress and has been sent to the President for signature. Touted as the largest Defense budget since WWII, the bill authorizes $725 billion for fiscal year 2011. The bill covers virtually every aspect of military spending including authorization for the following changes to military benefits, family support programs and military pay:
Military Pay and Compensation:
- Provides funding for a 1.4 percent across-the-board pay raise for members of the uniformed services.
Military Health Care:
- TRICARE coverage for certain dependents of eligible beneficiaries up to age 26.
- Prohibits increases in TRICARE premiums and copayments for TRICARE Prime, charges for inpatient care in civilian hospitals under TRICARE Standard, and cost sharing requirements for drugs provided through the TRICARE retail pharmacy for one year.
- Authorizes dependent survivors to be eligible to enroll in the TRICARE dental program even if they were not enrolled prior to the death of their sponsor.
Military Family Support Programs:
- Establishes the rate of the monthly stipend under the Department of Defense (DOD) family caregiver compensation program as the amount of the caregiver stipend under the Department of Veterans Affairs program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers.
- Requires the establishment of an advisory panel on community support for military families with special needs, authorizes the service secretaries to establish or support centers to provide services for military children with special needs.