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Washington Update for week of August 20th, 2018

 

 Inside this issue

 

TREA "The Enlisted Association" Washington Update

 

 

TREA "The Enlisted Association" Washington Update

 

 

Senate Works to Finish Defense Funding Bill for FY2019

 

 

The Senate is voting this week on amendments to the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education bill as itworks in a bipartisan fashion to pass fiscal 2019 spending bills.

Senators have introduced a number of amendments to the Defense bill, which leaders have paired with the Labor-HHS-Education measures for its latest "minibus" appropriations package.

The Defense bill alone comprises 49 percent of all discretionary spending of the government of the United States of America. Accompanying it is the bill on health and education, which is the second largest appropriation bill, so these two bills together are a massive government expenditure that would fund almost 70 percent of the federal discretionary programs for fiscal 2019.

Senators are hoping for a final vote on the measure this week but before they can declare victory, they'll need to also get President Donald Trump and House lawmakers on board. Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he hopes the Senate can pass a package by the end of the week that includes the defense (S.3159) and Labor-HHS-Education (S.3158) spending bills. However, he hasn't gotten any promises from the White House about Trump signing the package into law.

"I would assume if the bills are overwhelmingly backed and they're solid, that the president would sign them," Shelby told reporters last week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has spoken to Trump about appropriations, and told Shelby earlier this month that Trump didn't specifically object to pairing the two largest spending bills together, Shelby said.

Once it passes the Senate it will have to go to a conference committee with the House, which has passed a defense bill, but one which did not include as part of it the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations.

 

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Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Assist Veterans

 

 

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Tester (D-Mont.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have introduced the Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act - S. 2884. This legislation would address issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) debt collection procedures and provide veterans needed information about potential debts.

"Many of our nation's veterans and their families are accidentally overpaid by the VA, only to later find they owe money back. Our bill would help veterans navigate the complicated VA bureaucracy in these confusing cases, and take steps to address the issue of overpayments in the first place. This is common sense bill our veterans need, and it has support from both sides of the aisle," said Senator Fischer.

Under the Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act, the VA would partner with Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) to create a new notice of indebtedness letter that explains why an individual owes alleged debts. The letter would also include steps the veteran can take to challenge or mitigate the debt. In addition, the VA would be directed to create a method to notify individuals of their debt electronically.

Furthermore, this bill would direct the VA, and Department of the Treasury where applicable, to study and report to Congress on administrative issues leading to VA overpayments, and long-term solutions to provide more useful and timely information to veterans.

 

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Army & Air Force Exchange Service Warns Shoppers About 'Exchange, Inc.' Scams

 

 

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is warning military shoppers about scammers offering to broker the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines through the Department of Defense retailer using the name "Exchange Inc."

"This has been an ongoing issue for several years now, and it has surfaced again where someone is using the Exchange's trademarked logo and name without permission to purportedly handle transactions in the United States on behalf of private sellers," said Air Force Chief Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor.

Unauthorized sources have solicited military shoppers in the past to purchase motor vehicles. (The Exchange does not have the authority to sell vehicles in the continental United States,) More recently, these scammers have attempted to sell boat engines.

Those who are responsible for these fraudulent sales attempts have left consumers with the impression they are doing business with the DoD's oldest exchange service.

The scammers typically direct potential buyers to use multiple third-party gift cards to pay for purchases. Most recently, scammers required payment using Google Play gift cards. To verify any suspicious payment method requests, military shoppers can call Exchange Customer Service at 800-527-2345.

"Often, the perpetrator cannot be identified because the methods they use are not traceable back to any individual," Reyes said.

The Exchange operates solely on military installations and via ShopMyExchange.com. The Exchange does not act as a broker in private transactions and does not advertise in classified advertisement or resale websites.

Shoppers who believe that they may have been taken advantage of can file a complaint through the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

 

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VA, Walgreens Collaborate to Improve Care Coordination for Veterans

 

 

As part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) efforts to improve care coordination for Veterans, the department is working with pharmacy services provider Walgreens to coordinate patient and pharmaceutical care for VA-enrolled patients.

With the click of a button, VA providers will be able to see the entire medication and immunization history of VA-enrolled patients who receive their prescription and immunization needs at Walgreens.

"This arrangement is the first of its kind and it's a strong collaboration," said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. "Partnerships like this will help VA continue to improve the way we care for Veterans.

As it expands its community care program, VA actively refines its ability to track medication prescribed by community providers. Prior to the arrangement, VA providers would ask patients to inform them about medications filled at Walgreens. With the VA-Walgreens exchange, VA providers can now easily view medications directly that are prescribed to VA-enrolled patients by community providers and filled at Walgreens pharmacies.

For the past five years, VA and Walgreens have partnered to provide flu shots at no cost for enrolled Veterans, improving vaccination rates and access to immunizations.

VA exchanges standards-based medical information securely and electronically with participating community health care partners, such as Walgreens, to ensure the best possible care coordination and medication management. Currently, VA exchanges health information with over 170 community health care partners, representing 1,288 hospitals, 537 Federally Qualified Health Centers, 261 nursing homes, 8,649 pharmacies (including over 8,000 Walgreens pharmacies) and over 22,431 clinics.

Additional information about the VA Health Information Exchange Program can be found online at www.va.gov/vler.

 

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