FRA NewsBytes – 7-12-13

fra_logo_tr-c6-opt1In this week’s edition:
DoD Civilian Furloughs Begin and SecDef Warns of Deeper Cuts in 2014
HASC and HVAC Joint Hearing on Transition to Civilian Life

TRICARE Will Stop Covering Some Compound Medications
Line of Duty Care for Reserve Members

DoD Civilian Furloughs Begin and SecDef Warns of Deeper Cuts in 2014

This week begins the furlough of nearly 700,000 Defense (DoD) civilian employees taking off one-day a week for the next 11 weeks. In addition training time for aircraft and ships is being reduced, among other effects of FY 2013 sequestration reductions ($37 billion in cuts for Defense). The Budget Control Act of 2011 mandates another round of deep across-the-board budget cuts effective October 1, 2013.

In a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman Senator Carl Levin (Mich.) and Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (Okla.), first reported in June 28 Newsbytes, Defense Secretary (SecDef) Chuck Hagel cautioned that DoD would be forced to make additional cuts if the sequester process continues through FY 2014.

Neither the House (H.R. 1960) nor Senate (S. 1197) Armed Services Committee-approved version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) accounts for $52 billion in cuts that will take effect on September 30, 2013, unless alternative spending plans are approved.

No talks between the President and House and Senate leadership to avert FY 2014 Defense sequestration cuts have been scheduled.  Members are urged to use the Action Center to tell the President, their Senators and Representative that these arbitrary cuts to Defense will create a “hollow force” and will endanger national security, and they should exclude Defense from future sequestration cuts.

To express your opinion to your elected officials on this issue go to:

http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=62389731


HASC and HVAC Joint Hearing on Transition to Civilian Life

The House Veterans Affairs (HVAC) and the House Armed Services (HASC) Committees held a rare joint meeting this week to review the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) collaboration to assist wounded/disabled service members returning to civilian life.

When a wounded/disabled service member leaves the military, the responsibility for medical care, benefits and other services transfers from DoD to VA. Currently, the departments work together on this transition but are far from being seamlessly integrated. FRA has a long-standing goal of a truly seamless transition from military to veteran status for all service members. The hearing covered DoD and VA sharing and integration of service and health records, VA’s disability benefits claims backlog, the impact of sequestration, as well as other areas where DoD and VA responsibilities meet.

A critical element of a truly seamless transition is a single electronic health record for active duty military and veterans. The VA and DoD recently announced jointly that the departments are abandoning plans to create a single electronic health record for active duty military and veterans. FRA views this as a step backwards on this issue apparently due to budget pressures and higher costs. There is some sharing now between DoD, and VA, however, wider expansion of data sharing is needed to obtain the goal of a seamless transition. Despite this setback VA and DoD witnesses at the joint committee hearing claimed that VA will have access to DoD medical records by the end of calendar year 2013 and that only four percent of the current backlog of claims are waiting for DoD medical information.


TRICARE Will Stop Covering Some Compound Medications

Recently, TMA (TRICARE Management Activity) sent a letter to 44,000 beneficiaries announcing important information about compound medication coverage. Pharmacy compounding is a practice in which a licensed pharmacist combines ingredients at the pharmacy to alter a prescription to an individual’s specific needs. The pharmacist may combine a conventional medication with other ingredients or eliminate an allergen.

The TRICARE pharmacy benefit covers medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Some compound prescriptions use ingredients that are not FDA-approved. If a beneficiary’s compound medication contains such ingredients, they should have received a letter from Express Scripts Inc. indicating that the prescription will no longer be covered as of July 24, 2013. Beneficiaries that have been notified that they (or a family member) are taking a compound medication that is no longer covered by TRICARE, should talk with their doctor to see if there is an appropriate alternative that is covered.


Line of Duty Care for Reserve Members

Understanding TRICARE health care options for Reservists can be confusing as it varies based on their duty status. When activated for more than 30 days, Reserve members are eligible for TRICARE Prime. If a Reserve member gets injured or aggravates an existing injury or illness as a direct result of his or her duties during a period of activation less than 30 days, a Reserve member may be covered under the line of duty (LOD) care or notice of eligibility (NOE) care for members of the Coast Guard. Weekend drill, summer training exercises and/or national disaster response are examples of activations for less than 30 days. For care received from a civilian provider, the Military Medical Support Office (MMSO) reviews the LOD/NOE case. For care received at a military hospital or clinic, the facility where care is received reviews the LOD/NOE case. For more information on LOD/NOE care please visit www.tricare.mil/LOD.