FRA NewsBytes – 8-9-2013

fra_logo_tr-c6-opt1Due to technical difficulties, NewsBytes did not go out on 8-9-2013.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

In this week’s edition:
Committee Advances Permanent Doc Fix
SecDef Reduces Furlough Days, Commissaries Resume Regular Operations
TRICARE Delays Compound Medication Coverage Prohibition
Committee Advances Permanent Doc Fix
FRA supports the permanent repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that dictates reimbursement rates paid to physicians who see Medicare and TRICARE patients. Under that formula, Medicare/TRICARE physician reimbursements are to be cut by nearly 30 percent on January 1, 2014  a move that may prompt many providers to stop seeing these beneficiaries.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to advance the “Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act” (H.R. 2810) that would make the so-called “Doc Fix” permanent.  The measure, sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas), seeks to repeal the broken Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula currently used to calculate reimbursement rates for physicians seeing Medicare and TRICARE patients, and replace it with a new system that is simpler, requires less paper work and reimburses for quality care rather than number of services.

“The time of temporary fixes and kicking the can down the road has ended. The bipartisan committee draft permanently repeals the SGR and places us on a path to paying for innovation and quality, not volume of services, and puts doctors, not bureaucrats, back in charge of medicine,” said Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (Penn.). The bill now goes to the full House for further consideration.

Members can use the FRA Action Center to ask their representative to support this important legislation. To express your views on this issue, visit http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=62788456

SecDef Reduces Furlough Days, Commissaries Resume Regular Operations
Secretary of Defense (SecDef) Chuck Hagel announced this week that more than 650,000 Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees will have to take only six days off without pay, instead of the 11 days that had been previously scheduled. These employees have been furloughed one day a week since July 8th, with an associated 20-percent cut in pay, as part of the sequestration budget cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).  The BCA requires the Pentagon to reduce the current year’s budget by $37 billion, and by $52 billion (a 41-percent larger cut) in FY 2014.  Next week will be the last week of  furloughs for this fiscal year and, related to this change, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) announced that military commissaries will resume a normal operating schedule after August 17th.  According to Hagel, the furlough reductions are the result of management initiatives, reduced costs and authority to reprogram funds granted by Congress.

FRA believes the Defense Department should be excluded from sequestration and shipmates are urged to use the FRA Action Center to tell the President, their senators and representatives that arbitrary sequestration-related cuts to Defense will create a hollow force and endanger national security.

To weigh in on this issue, go to:  http://www.capwiz.com/fra/issues/alert/?alertid=62389731

TRICARE Delays Compound Medication Coverage Prohibition
As reported in the July 12, 2013, edition of NewsBytes, TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) previously announced that compound prescriptions that include ingredients that are not FDA-approved would no longer be covered for TRICARE beneficiaries. TMA recently released a statement announcing a six-month delay (until January 2014) in suspending coverage for these medications, in order to provide more time for evaluation.  FRA will provide further information on the availability of these medications when more is known in the coming months.