Topics In This Week's News Include:
Here's The News!!!
1. Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care Briefing:On February 6, 2007, a member of the National Military FamilyAssociation (NMFA) attended the briefing. The task force heard aboutthe Department of Defense's (DoD) pharmacy program. According to RADMThomas McGinnis and CAPT Patricia Buss, there are approximately 6.7million who utilize the pharmacy benefit out of potential 9.2 millionbeneficiaries. Prescriptions are dispensed in the 121 MilitaryTreatment Facility (MTF) pharmacies, a national TRICARE Mail OrderPharmacy (TMOP) and 58,650 retail network pharmacies. In Fiscal Year(FY) 2006,115 million prescriptions were filled with the majority inthe MTF (2.8 million), followed by retail (1.9 million) and TMOP (55,076).
The cost for medication has increased over time. In FY06, total costwas $6.18 billion with retail representing the most expensive at $3.9billion comprising 63 percent of total expenditures, MTF with $1.5billion (25%) and TMOP at $718 million (12%). Costs have risen becauseof an overall increase in beneficiaries and low out-of-pocket co-pays.RADM McGinnis spoke of past and future proposed policy initiatives.
Past cost containment initiatives:
- Joint pharmaceutical contracting with Department of Veterans Affairs resulting in an FY06 $379 million cost avoidance
- TMOP marketing started February 2006
- Retail pharmacy rebates started August 2006
- Mandatory generic policy
Future policy cost containment considerations:
- Make all 3rd tier maintenance drugs available only through TMOP (requires regulation change)
- Dispense selected 1st and 2nd tier maintenance drugs at TMOP or MTF only (requires legislative change)
- Allow designation of selected Over the Counter drugs to be a covered benefit (currently under demonstration authority)
- Revise co-pays
- Retail 30 day supply was proposed at Generic $5 (currently $3),Formulary-brand $15 (current $9), and Non-Formulary N/A (currently $22)
- TMOP90 day supply was proposed at Generic $0 (currently $3),Formulary-brand $15 (currently $9) and Non-Formulary up to 20/25%(currently $22)
NMFA, along with the Military Coalition has worked with DoD tomarket the new TMOP. We have played a large role in its success. NMFAis reviewing the current DoD proposals and their potential impact oneligible military service members and their families. We will continueto monitor future Task Force on the Future of Military Health Caremeetings for pertinent information pertaining to this importantbenefit.
2. Deadline Nearing for Many Military Friendly Scholarships:Military family members value educational opportunities. In the everchallenging military lifestyle, participating in post secondaryeducation is high on the list of many military children and militaryspouses, as is finding ways to pay for college. Most families will tellyou that this scholarship search can become all consuming! It'simperative for military families to stay up to date and ever cognizantof scholarship application deadlines.
To help with this effort, National Military Family Association hasarranged a listing of upcoming scholarships according to deadlines. Fora more complete listing go to: http://www.nmfa.org
Commissary Scholarship Program:
- Deadline, February 21, 2007. Open to all unmarried children under21---under 23 if enrolled in school---of military active-duty, Reserve,National Guard and retired personnel. Scholarship applications areavailable at 263 commissaries worldwide, or can be downloaded throughthe Scholarship for Military Children, Defense Commissary Agency andDepartment of Defense Education Activity's website: http://www.commissaries.com/
Army Emergency Relief:
- Dependent Children Scholarship Program: MG James Ursano ScholarshipProgram: Deadline, March 1, 2007. Applicants must be dependentchildren, stepchildren or legally adopted children or a ward of Armysoldiers on active duty, retired, or deceased while on active duty orafter retirement. Children of Reserve or National Guard soldiersmobilized under title 10 status for the entire academic year areeligible. The children of Gray Area retirees are also eligible.Applicants must be registered in the Defense Eligibility EnrollmentReporting System (DEERS), unmarried for the entire academic year, underthe age of 22 on May 1, 2007 based on the 2007-08 academic year andmaintain a cumulative GPA of not less than 2.0 based on a 4.0 scale.Visit: http://www.aerhq.org/
- StatesideSpouse Education Program: Deadline, March 1, 2007. Eligible applicantsmust be residing in the U.S., an Army Soldier spouse on active duty,widow(er) of an Army Soldier who died on active duty, spouse of retiredArmy Soldier or widow(er) of an Army Soldier who died while in retiredstatus. Visit: http://www.aerhq.org/
Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS):
- Vice Admiral E. P. Travers Scholarship and Loan Program: Deadline,March 1, 2007. This program provides scholarships and interest-freeloans to dependent children and spouses of active duty and retiredNavy-Marine Corps. Visit: http://www.nmcrs.org/education.html
- USSTENNESSEE Scholarship Fund: Deadline, March 1, 2007. The scholarshipprovides grants of up to $2,000 for an academic year to dependentchildren of active duty or retired service members who are serving orserved aboard the USS TENNESSEE. Go to: http://www.nmcrs.org/education.html
- Dependentsof Deceased Service Members Scholarship Program: Deadline, March 1,2007. This program provides grants for an academic year to children andun-remarried spouses who are military dependents of deceased servicemembers. Awards are determined by NMCRS Headquarters EducationDivision. Go to: http://www.nmcrs.org/education.html
Air Force Aid Society:
- General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program: PreliminaryDeadline, March 9, 2007. The program provides $2000 grants to selectedsons and daughters of active duty, Title 10 AGR/Reserve, Title 32 AGRperforming active duty, retired, retired Reserve and deceased Air Forceservice members; spouses (stateside) of active duty and Title 10AGR/Reserve; and surviving spouses of deceased personnel forundergraduate studies. See: http://www.afas.org/Education/body_deadlines.cfm
National Military Family Association:
- Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program:Deadline, March 15, 2007. This scholarship is awarded to spouses ofUniformed Services members (active duty, National Guard and Reserve,retirees, and survivors) to obtain professional certification or toattend post secondary or graduate school. Scholarships range from $500to $1,000, and the number awarded each year varies depending onfunding. Scholarship funds may be used for tuition, fees, and schoolroom and board. See: www.nmfa.org
3. Virginia Legislation Clarifies School Age Tuition Charge Exemption Rules:In an effort to provide continuing support to military personnel andtheir families residing in Virginia, Delegate Robert Tata (R-85thDistrict) championed the passage of HB 2092 Tuition charges in-state;clarifies requirements for children of deployed military parents. Thisbill eliminates the requirement that a student must have been attendinga Virginia public school in the Commonwealth while residing with acustodial parent(s) prior to their deployment outside the United Statesto attend school without paying tuition, and further clarifies, thatwhen practical, the student may continue to attend school in theVirginia School division they attended immediately prior to thedeployment and not be charged tuition. The bill unanimously passed theHouse of Delegates on January 25, 2007 and the Senate on February 5,2007 is awaiting the Governor's signature.
The National Military Family Association (NMFA) congratulatesDelegate Tata for his support of military families and his sensitivityto the unique challenges presented to our families during a time ofdeployment. Often times, under special circumstances, a service membermust designate a caregiver who under a Special Power of Attorney isdefined as the parent during the time of the service member's overseasdeployment. Conflicts arise when the student comes from outside theCommonwealth to stay with the caregiver or wants to stay in the sameVirginia school district he is already attending and the caregiverresides in a nearby district. This legislation provides much neededclarification on the eligibility for the tuition waiver.
NMFA looks forward to Governor Tim Kaine's signing of the bill andonce again thanks the Virginia General Assembly for its commitment tomilitary families.(Source: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?071+ful+HB2092)
4. Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Released:The Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Department of Defense's (DoD) budget proposalwas presented at a Pentagon press conference on February 5, 2007. Inaddition to funding for operations, the budget included a 3 percentincrease in base pay and a 4.2 percent increase in basic allowance forhousing (BAH). The budget also included funding for privatization of anadditional 3,270 housing units bringing the total number to 194,000 bythe end of FY08. Following the budget's release, Robert Gates,Secretary of Defense, and General Peter Pace, Chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate and House Armed ServicesCommittees on the details of the spending proposal.
During questioning by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), General Pace wasasked about the $3.1 billion shortfall in the Continuing Resolution forFY07 funding. General Pace responded: "Immediately, it means that thekinds of things that we need to do for our families that we're tryingto move back from Germany, for example, back to the United States --that the housing, the schools, the hospitals, all of the infrastructurethat needs to be built on the bases here isn't going to happen."
National Military Family Association (NMFA) applauds General Pace'scommitment to taking care of our military families. However, we remainconcerned about the lack of funding to ensure the Base Realignment andClosure and rebasing initiatives do not result in the loss of criticalservices and support for our families caught in the process. NMFA urgesCongress to recognize the importance of this critical funding and toprovide DoD with the means to ensure all necessary elements are inplace prior to families' arrival at these new families arriving atthese installations.
5. AAFES Delivers Pizza, a Movie and Magazine to Students Who "Make the Grade": Reading,writing and arithmetic are taking a back seat to electronics, clothesand toys at the Exchange (PX/BX) as students cash in on the Army andAir Force Exchange Service's (AAFES), "You Made the Grade" program.Initiated in February 2000, AAFES' education reward recognizesabove-average academic achievement. Qualifying students receive acoupon booklet that includes free admission to an AAFES Reel TimeTheater, a complimentary slice of Anthony's pizza with drink, a freemagazine, as well as other coupons.
"It is important to recognize our military families' superiorstudents," said AAFES' Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. BryanEaton. "They have faced unique educational challenges that mostcivilian students will never have to contend with. To be able tomaintain academic excellence despite adversities such as movingregularly or having a parent deployed shows the resilience and resolveof these students as well as the quality of their teachers."
Each "You Made the Grade" booklet contains an entry form for aquarterly savings bond drawing in which three winners are randomlyawarded savings bonds of $2,000, $3,000 or $5,000. To receive thebooklet, students simply present a valid military Identification cardand proof of an overall "B" or better to their local PX/BX. Studentsmay receive one coupon package for every qualifying report card, butmay enter the savings bond drawing only once per calendar quarter.Military families can contact their local AAFES Main StoreManager/General Manager for more information.(Source: http://www.aafes.com/pa/news/07news/07-010.htm)
6. Wounded Service Member Rehabilitation Center Opens in Texas:On January 29, 2007, the Department of Defense (DoD) held a dedicationceremony to honor its new rehabilitation facility, the Center for theIntrepid, and two Fisher Houses to accommodate military families. Thecenter's success came from contributions received from 600,000Americans to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund; and, the Fisher HouseFoundation donated two Malibu styled homes.
The center is 60,000 square feet, four stories high and containsstate-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment and technology. The two-storyclimbing wall, firing range, surfing pool, indoor track, a prostheticcenter and CAREN (computer assisted rehabilitation environment) providewounded service members an opportunity to maximize their recoveryefforts. The center will first accommodate wounded service members withamputations and/or burns. It has the potential to incorporate retirees,veterans and military family members in the future.
The new Fisher Houses add to two existing homes at Brooke ArmyMedical Center. These homes provide a free place for family members' ofwounded service members to stay during the rehabilitation and recoveryphases. They are attractively furnished and equipped with a modernkitchen, formal dinning room, sitting areas and flat screen Televisionswith DVD/VCRs. The new 21 room 16,800 square foot homes will provideadditional needed space.
The National Military Family Association appreciates theoverwhelming generosity by Americans to help military family membersduring this difficult time care for their wounded service members andprovide a technologically advanced rehabilitation facility to assistwounded service members' recovery.(Source: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=2853 ).
7. Wounded Veterans Hit the Slopes:Wounded veterans from the Global War on Terror will take part in the21st National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic from April 1-6,2007. The event is part of veterans with disabilities (visual,neurological, spinal cord and amputation) rehabilitation program whoreceive care from the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) treatmentfacilities.
The event is sponsored by the Disabled American Veterans, the VA andmade possible by a partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Thesix-day clinic teaches attendees adaptive sports, such as self-defense,sled hockey, snowmobiling and Alpine and Nordic skiing. The U.S OlympicCommittee will be on hand to evaluate participants for futureParalympics athletes. The annual event is hosted by the VA's GrandJunction VA Medical Center and the Rocky Mountain Network. This year itwill be held at Snowmass Village, CO. (Source: http://www.southwest.va.gov/docs/ABQ_docs/VeteransTaketotheSlopes.doc).
8. Armed Services Blood Program Has An Updated Website: TheArmed Services Blood Program (ASPB) provides quality blood products forservice members and their families in both peace and war. As a jointoperation among the military services (Army, Navy, Air Force), the ASBPhas many components working together to collect, process, store,distribute, and transfuse the blood worldwide. Their website has beenredesigned to provide updated information on blood facts, donoreligibility criteria, donor center locations, and more. The ASBPcollects blood only from service members, government civilians,retirees, and their family members. The U.S. military needs bloodevery day for critically injured troops, cancer patients, prematureinfants, and other uses. For more information on the ASBP visit http://www.militaryblood.dod.mil/. (Source: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=3023).