FRA NewsBytes October 16 2015

FRA Newsbytes 10/16/2015

FRA Newsbytes 10/16/2015

In this issue:
Retiree COLA Set for 2016
FRA and Auxiliary National Conventions Underway
Report: VA Health Care System is Broken
Happy Birthday, U.S. Navy!


Retiree COLA Set for 2016
2016 will be the first year since 2011 that Military and federal civilian retirees, survivor benefit annuitants, disabled veterans and Social Security recipients do not receive a cost of iving adjustment (COLA). In 2010 and 2011 there was also no COLA.

The reason why federal retirees will not receive a COLA in 2016 is that consumer prices have declined over the past year. The annual retiree COLA is calculated as the change in the average Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from the third quarter of the previous year to the third quarter of the current year. BLS reported that the (CPI-W) actually decreased from the third quarter of 2014 to the same quarter of 2015.
FRA and Auxiliary National Conventions Underway
FRA Shipmates and Auxiliary members are currently gathering in Spokane, Wash., for their annual conventions. The conventions kicked off on Wednesday with a keynote address by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (5th Congressional District, Wash.). McMorris Rodgers, Republican Conference Chair, thanked FRA and Auxiliary members for their military service and sacrifice, acknowledging their courage in defending our national values, freedom and way of life. She also spoke of the importance of bipartisan support for legislative measures that benefit service members, veterans and their families, and wished both organizations a good convention.

Elections of national officers will take place later this afternoon and results will be published on Facebook (www.fra.org/fb) and the FRA website (www.fra.org) at the earliest opportunity. Results will also be published in next week’s NewsBytes.
Report: VA Health Care System is Broken
An independent report on the Department of Veterans Affairs health care program (Veterans Health Administration-VHA) concludes that the system needs a complete overhaul. This report was mandated by Congress last year. It shows that the system suffering from bureaucracy and leadership challenges, and is on an “unsustainable trajectory of capital costs.” Many veterans have complained that the VHA is difficult to navigate and that the quality of care varies from location to location, and this report confirms that observation.

The report notes a lack of leadership at VA, a staffing shortage, and a demoralized workforce. VA Secretary Bob McDonald agreed with many of the findings of the report and noted “VA is undergoing a radical transformation.” The report noted that VA outpatient care outperforms other health care systems.
Happy Birthday, U.S. Navy!
Tuesday, October 13, marked the 240th birthday of the United States Navy. The U.S. Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, established by the Continental Congress on 13 October 1775 to fight in America’s war for independence. The Continental Navy numbered some 50 ships over the course of the war. The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, empowered Congress “to provide and maintain a navy.”