For the week of January 22, 2008
1. House Approves Revised Defense Authorization Bill:Last week, the House passed a revised National Defense Authorizationbill (H.R. 4986) replacing H.R. 1585, which President Bush vetoed inDecember. The bills are identical except for changes to a provisionwhich allowed for litigation against the government of Iraq.
The Senate is expected to consider H.R. 4986 this week.
2. Military Children to Benefit from New Interstate Compact: Twenty-fivestates are considering introducing the Interstate Compact onEducational Opportunity for Military Children this year. InterstateCompacts are intended to facilitate a more uniformed approach betweenstates on specific local and state issues. Interstate Compacts becomeactive when 10 or more states adopt the proposed language. Thisparticular compact focuses on military children transferring betweenschool districts and states, and recognizes that no matter howsupportive states are of military children they can only control whathappens within their borders. By joining together with other states inthe compact, each state can help ensure that children have theeducational opportunities they deserve even after they move to anotherstate.
States considering this important compact are: Alabama, Alaska,California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii,Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri,Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, SouthCarolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Several ofthese states have filed bills to enact the Interstate Compact and moreare expected within the month. In addition, Committee hearings areanticipated to be scheduled soon since many legislatures are in shortsessions. Those states not in session in 2008 are: Arizona, Montana,North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon and Texas.
NMFA is pleased to have been a member of both the Advisory Group andDrafting Team, and looks forward to the compact becoming law. We urgeyou to help in this process by contacting your local member of thestate legislature. For more information and to track the progress ofthe compact, go to: http://www.csg.org/programs/ncic/EducatingMilitaryChildrenCompact.aspx
3. New Arizona Tax Law Benefits Military Families: Residentsof Arizona can now receive a state tax credit for donations made to thenew Military Family Relief Fund. Governor Janet Napolitano signed thenew bill into law in December. Not only does it provide a dollar fordollar credit for donations up to $200 for single tax payers and $400for married couples; it also builds an emergency fund for families ofArizona service members injured or killed in the line of duty. The newlaw remains in effect for tax years 2008 through 2012. (Source: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/business/articles/0120biz-TaxCredit0121.html)
4. TRICARE for Life Goes Digital: TRICAREfor Life (TFL) beneficiaries can now print a copy of their Explanationof Benefits (EOB) from the convenience of their own homes. Beginningthis January, the only paper EOB's that beneficiaries will receive aremonthly summaries. The exception to this new practice is if a claimincludes services that are rejected, and those services have appealrights or if the EOB is mailed with a payment to the beneficiary.
In February, beneficiaries will have the option to receive anelectronic notification every time a claim processes. Beneficiaries canthen log on to the secure web site at http://www.tricare4u.com/to view and print their EOB. Beneficiaries will have the ability toaccess a copy of their benefits for any claim processed during the last27 months. Once a beneficiary signs up for this option, they will notreceive a monthly paper summary.
All TRICARE for Life beneficiaries will receive letters notifyingthem of the changes, either with their current EOB's or any othercorrespondence. Beneficiaries having questions regarding theregistration process can call toll-free at 1-866-773-0404. Thoserequiring a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) can call1-866-773-0405. (Source: TRICARE Management Activity News Release; http://www.tricare.mil/)
5. TBI Army Task Force Released Their Findings:On January 17, 2008, the U.S. Army Medical Command released thefindings of the Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force. They studiedTraumatic Brian Injury (TBI) issues for five months and completed theirwork in May 2007. The group was chaired by BG Donald Bradshaw,Commander of the Army's Southeast Regional Medical Command andconsisted of experts from all of the military services and theDepartment of Veterans Affairs (VA). They were chartered by the ArmySurgeon General to analyze and make recommendations to improveclinical, administrative, and research processes involved withproviding health care and services to soldiers and other servicemembers.
The Task Force visited military, VA, and civilian health carefacilities; interviewed soldiers, family members, caregivers, andsubject matter experts; and reviewed pertinent documents. Several oftheir recommendations have been implemented:
- Standardization of the definition of TBI,
- Utilization of acognitive assessment tool, Automated Neuropsychological AssessmentMetrics (ANAM) as part of soldiers readiness processing,
- Establishment of TBI Program Site Certification guidelines, and
- Development of a standardized template to document Military Acute Concussion Evaluation (MACE) in theater.
Some of the challenges identified were: coordination; incident datarecording; inconsistent treatment and documentation; education forservice members, families, combat units, providers, and communities;and the ability to understand, diagnose, and treat mild TBI. The reportstated the Army has aggressively sought to prevent, diagnose, and treatTBI, but much more remains to be accomplished to better understand andrespond to these injuries.(Source: http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/news/reports/TBITaskForceReportJanuary2008.pdf)
6. Audio Books Program a Great Benefit for Military Families: Militaryspouses and families are encouraged to take advantage of their accessto free audio books, movies, and music now available through the Navy'saudio books program. Popular titles, foreign languagelessons, and even children's movies are available for download throughNavy Knowledge Online by all active-duty, retired, reserve, anddependent members of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.Currently, the online library houses over 8,000 audio books, 400eBooks, 600 videos and 1,400 albums. Educational materials such asforeign language books and manuals, and books on the Chief of NavalOperation's Navy Professional Reading list are also available fordownload. To access the audio books program, log into http://www.nko.navy.mil/click on the link to "Navy Library Econtent" on the right side of thepage under the "reference" section. Next, click on the banner thatreads "Download eBooks, audio books, music, and video," to access themyriad of titles available. A user account must be established to checkout materials. Over 400 titles were selected specifically forchildren. New titles are added to the library regularly, in categoriesranging from classic literature and juvenile fiction to business andfinance or comic and graphic books.
There are several guidelines for using of the library. Titles areserved through the Overdrive Media Console, and cannot be downloaded toNavy computers, or used on iPods, Macs or Zunes. While theserestrictions may make it difficult for a Sailor at sea to access thelibrary, the families of military personnel can always take advantageof the program. Items may be downloaded to personal computers, non-iPodlistening devices or even CD's. Five items may be downloaded ata time. Due to high customer demand, all audio books and music titlesare available to the user for 10 days, and video titles may be checkedout for five days; after that period, the title must be checked outagain.
For more information or to establish an account, visit Navy Knowledge Online at http://www.nko.navy.mil/.(Source: http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=34316)
7. FDA Releases Recommendations Regarding Use of Over-the-Counter Cough and Cold Products:The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Public HealthAdvisory for parents and caregivers, recommending that over-the-counter(OTC) cough and cold products not be used to treat infants and childrenless than 2 years of age because serious and potentiallylife-threatening side effects can occur. OTC cough and cold productsinclude decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines, and antitussives(cough suppressants) for the treatment of colds.
There is a wide variety of rare, serious adverse events reportedwith cough and cold products. They include death, convulsions, rapidheart rates, and decreased levels of consciousness.
The announcement does not include the FDA's final recommendationabout use of OTC cough and cold medicines in children ages 2 to 11years. The agency's review of data for 2-to-11-year-olds is continuing.The FDA said it is committed to making a timely and comprehensivereview of the safety of OTC cough and cold medicines in children. Theagency plans to issue its recommendations on use of the products inchildren ages 2 to 11 years to the public as soon as the review iscomplete. (Source: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2008/NEW01778.html)
8. Congratulations Perdew Family! JessicaPerdew, Deputy Director of Government Relations for NMFA, gave birth toa healthy baby boy, Andrew, on Tuesday, January 15th. Mother and babyare doing fine. NMFA joins the Perdew Family in welcoming their newestaddition.