Washington Update for March 29th, 2019
TREA: The Enlisted Association
Active / Reserve Force Issues
• Two-year spending agreement, fully funding NDAA 2018, and ensuring passage of NDAA 2019 (and appropriations therefor) on time - FY 2019 was the first FY in 22 years to begin without requiring a crippling continuing resolution (CR) to fund national defense.
• Won 2.6% uniformed services pay raise.
• Increased force structure levels.
• Blocked previously legislated 1 percent cut to Basic Allowance for Housing for 2019.
• Actively engaged Commissary reform efforts.
• Appropriation of $2 million, specifically for female personal protective equipment, reducing injuries during training and raising lethality of the total force by ensuring properly fitting equipment does not hamper the movement and ability of female service members.
Health Care Issues
• Blocked proposal to eliminate grandfathering clause protecting existing service members and retirees (as of 1 January 2018) from increased copays and enrollment fees imposed in 2018.
• Blocked additional TRICARE fee increases in NDAA 2019.
Military Family / Veterans
• Expansion of Veterans' access to care by consolidating seven existing community care programs into one, eliminating the Choice Act, and integrating providers into a broader network (in VA MISSION Act).
• $5 billion to keep the VA Choice program funded for a year, to avoid gaps in coverage for those who use the program (in VA MISSION Act).
• Establishment of a process to review and develop a plan to optimize and modernize VA medical care facilities where there is a demand (in VA MISSION Act).
• Extension of the VA caregiver program to Veterans of all eras who were seriously disabled, versus limiting it to those who fought in post-9/11 conflicts (in VA MISSION Act).
• Protected individual unemployability benefits and cost of living adjustment benefits for disabled veterans.
• Permanent appropriation for the payment of death gratuities and related benefits to survivors of deceased members of the uniformed services during a period of lapsed appropriations.
• Absent extension of last year's two year spending agreement, crippling sequestration will likely return, complicating timely passage of NDAA 2020 (and necessitating use of damaging CRs). TREA remains concerned about consistent ongoing funding that will meet future requirements for both DOD and VA.
• TREA continues its hard work on important reform legislation like the MISSION Act, Forever GI Bill, Appeals Modernization Act and Electronic Health Records Modernization. TREA continues to advocate and hold VA accountable to provide IT infrastructures to implement these comprehensive reforms.