FRA NewsBytes January 9, 2015

FRA Newsbytes 01/09/2015

FRA Newsbytes 01/09/2015

In this issue:
Ask Congress to Make the “Doc Fix” Permanent
Take Defense out of Sequestration
House Passes Hire More Heroes Act
Members of Congress with Military Experience


Ask Congress to Make the “Doc Fix” Permanent
Medicare and TRICARE will have to cut reimbursements to physicians by 22 percent as of April 1, 2015, unless Congress changes the “doc fix” law. The threat of significant cuts to reimbursement rates for physicians seeing Medicare and TRICARE patients was only delayed last year from April 1, 2014 to April 1, 2015. Efforts to identify and enact a permanent solution have dragged on for years, with Congress approving only temporary fixes, primarily due to costs.

FRA strongly supports a permanent solution (the “doc fix”) by establishing sufficient reimbursement rates to ensure beneficiaries have continued access to quality medical care. Members are urged to use the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) to ask their elected officials to make the “doc fix” permanent.
Take Defense out of Sequestration
Budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 pose a threat to national security and will substantially impact member pay and benefits. These automatic cuts, known as Sequestration, require that 50 percent of budget cuts come from Defense even though Defense only makes up 17 percent of the federal budget. These cuts were intended to be so punitive that Congress and the Administration would be forced to work together to find reasonable alternatives. Unfortunately, this has not occurred—Congress and the White House continue to be consumed with partisan bickering and have been unable to come to a long term agreement on the budget without sequestration cuts.

Members are strongly urged to use the Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) to ask legislators to exclude Defense from sequestration.
House Passes Hire More Heroes Act
On the first day of session for the new (114th)  Congress, the House unanimously passed the “Hire More Heroes Act” (HR 22), sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis (Il.), which incentivizes small businesses to hire veterans while at the same time providing them relief from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill exempts employees with health coverage under TRICARE or the Department of Veterans Affairs from determining if the employer is regulated by the ACA (30 or more employees that work 30 or more hours a week). The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
Members of Congress with Military Experience
The number of House members in the new 114th Congress with military experience declined from 84 to 81. The number of Senators with military experience actually increased from 19 to 21. This is the first Congress in a long time without any World War II veterans, and for the first time a woman veteran (Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa) is serving in the U.S. Senate.