FRA NewsBytes April 3 2015

FRA Newsbytes 04/03/2015

FRA Newsbytes 04/03/2015

In this issue
SBP/DIC Offset Repeal Introduced in the House
FRA Discusses Retirement Commission’s Final Report with Rep. Jones (N.C.)
DHA Wants Beneficiaries to Protect their Privacy
TRICARE Revises Compound Drug Coverage
Happy Birthday, Navy CPO!

SBP/DIC Offset Repeal Introduced in the House
Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.) has introduced FRA-supported legislation (H.R. 1594) that would repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) for surviving spouses to offset dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC).

SBP and DIC payments are paid for different reasons. SBP is purchased by the retiree and is intended to provide a portion of retired pay to the survivor. DIC is a special indemnity compensation paid to the survivor when a member’s service causes his or her premature death. In such cases, the VA indemnity compensation should be added to the SBP the retiree paid for, not substituted for it. It should be noted as a matter of equity that surviving spouses of federal civilian retirees who are disabled veterans and die of military-service-connected causes can receive DIC without losing any of their federal civilian SBP benefits.

Members are strongly urged to use the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) to ask their U.S. Representative to support this legislation.

FRA Discusses Retirement Commission’s Final Report with Rep. Jones (N.C.)
FRA DLP John Davis was a guest on cable TV talk show “Washington Watch.” The show is hosted by Rep. Walter Jones, who invited Davis to discuss the final recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization (MCRMC). Davis expressed disappointment that none of the MCRMC commissioners were senior enlisted personnel. Davis thanked the commission staff for numerous meetings with FRA staff to allow FRA to provide input as the commission made its decisions regarding changes to pay and benefits. The commission recently released its final report, which includes 15 recommendations. The primary focus of discussion on the show were recommendations that substantially reduce benefits for future 20-year career retirees in order to help pay for benefits for those who serve less than 20 years, and recommendations to abolish TRICARE for current and future retirees under age 65, replacing it with a program provided by commercial insurers that would shift a substantial part of the cost to retirees.

Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) is an honorary FRA member and 2003 Pinnacle Award (FRA’s award for legislator of the year) winner. Washington Watch airs on a dozen local North Carolina cable TV stations and can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oqMb1-2H7Y&feature=youtu.be.

DHA Wants Beneficiaries to Protect their Privacy
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) wants to remind beneficiaries that it will never call them and ask for personal information, and that if a beneficiary receives this type of call, it is fraud. Beneficiaries should remain vigilant in protecting their personal information from people looking to use it for fraudulent reasons. Beneficiaries should never give out personal information, such as their social security number, to anyone over the phone.

In more sophisticated telephone scams, the caller may have specific information that makes the call seem official. This information may include the beneficiary’s address, phone number or doctor’s name. The caller is hoping this will convince the beneficiary he or she is calling from a legitimate vendor and that the beneficiary will divulge his or her social security number and additional personal information.

If you receive a call like this, DO NOT reveal any personally identifiable information, such as birth date, social security number or banking information. TRICARE never asks beneficiaries for this information when calling for any reason, including an official Department of Defense survey.

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) Program Integrity Office always closely monitors possible fraud against beneficiaries. If you receive a call of this nature, please do not provide your information, and contact the DHA Program Integrity Office immediately. For more information, go to: www.tricare.mil/ContactUs/ReportFraudAbuse.aspx.

TRICARE Revises Compound Drug Coverage
As first reported in the July 12, 2013 issue of NewsBytes, TRICARE announced that compound prescriptions including ingredients that are not FDA-approved would no longer be covered. However, starting May 1, 2015, Express Scripts Inc. (ESI), the TRICARE pharmacy contractor, will screen all ingredients in compound drug claims to ensure that they are safe and effective, and covered by TRICARE. This screening process is similar to the one TRICARE already uses for other prescription drugs, but it will now apply to the ingredients in compound drugs.

Compound drugs are a combination of drug ingredients prepared by a pharmacist for a patient’s individual needs. TRICARE beneficiaries taking a compound drug likely to be impacted by the change will soon receive a letter explaining the new process for screening compound drugs, and what steps they should follow.

Use of compound drugs has increased greatly in recent years. However, there is limited or no evidence that some compound drug ingredients are safe and effective. If a compound does not pass an initial screen, the pharmacist can replace a non-approved ingredient with an approved one, or request the doctor write a new prescription. If this is not possible, the doctor may ask ESI to consider other evidence by requesting prior authorization.

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) claims that its highest priority is to provide beneficiaries safe and effective care while being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. Many compound drugs will still be covered because they include ingredients proven to be safe, and most beneficiaries will experience no delay in getting their prescriptions. For more information about TRICARE coverage of compound drugs, visit the TRICARE Compound Drugs page at www.tricare.mil/CompoundDrugs.

Happy Birthday, Navy CPO!
This week marks the 122nd birthday of the Navy’s Chief Petty Officer rank. On April 1, 1893, the Navy promoted the first sailors to Chief Petty Officer (CPO). The position has evolved into the backbone of the fleet, responsible for keeping the Navy operating. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens released a birthday message thanking the chiefs for their service and their leadership in an ever-changing role in the Navy.