TROA Information Update for 3/10/98.
Mon, 16 Mar 1998 16:57:18 EST
The following TROA Legislative Update is forwarded
for your information. TROA
is providing this service to NGBAA at no cost. Since NGBAA is a non-political
organization, we forward this information without comment or indorsement.
You should contact the author for additional information
or to provide your
support and/or comment.
TROA has received a number of voice and Email inquiries
re enrollment in
the VA health care system. Some organizations have erroneously reported
that if a veteran has not enrolled be September 30, 1998 he/she will be
denied access to the VA health care system for life.
THIS INFORMATION IS INCORRECT.
Enrollment in the VA health care system will be conducted
on a "rolling" or
continuous basis before and after September 30, 1998. There is no
"dropdead" date to apply for enrollment. Veterans, including military
retirees, who intend to use VA health care and have not already enrolled or
obtained care from the VA since 1996 are encouraged to enroll as soon as
possible. Acceptance of an enrollment application establishes an
anniversary date for routine access to VA health care. Service-connected
disabled veterans are automatically re-enrolled each anniversary date.
Lower priority, non-service connected veterans MAY be accepted for
enrollment as resources permit.
The March 1998 issue of The Retired Officer magazine
comprehensive article on VA health care enrollment. See, "Navigating a
Changing VA Health Care System" beginning on page 50.
The Dept. of Veterans Affairs media advisory on this issue follows:
"Veterans who do not enroll in the VA healthcare system
by October 1, 1998,
will NOT be denied VA health care later if they are in a priority group
that VA is enrolling. VA automatically processes an application for any
who has used the system since October, 1996. This information is available
on the VA Home Page (http://www.va.gov/health/elig/) and from any VA
"VA eligibility reform legislation was enacted by Congress
and signed by
the President in October, 1996. The legislation required VA to manage
access to VA care by using a system of enrollment priorities. There are
seven priority groups, and VA will enroll veterans from as many of the
possible. Veterans who are in those groups can be enrolled at the time they
come to a VA medical facility for care."
This is TROA's legislative update for Friday, March 13, 1998.
Subvention Hopefuls Must Enroll in Medicare Part B
Medicare-eligible uniformed service beneficiaries who
live near one of the
Medicare subvention test sites must be enrolled in Medicare Part B before
the end of March if they hope to participate in this year's subvention
The installations selected as subvention test sites include:
Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, MS.
Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall Medical
Center, San Antonio,
TX, plus Fort Sill in Lawton, OK and Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita
Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO.
Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, WA.
Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, CA.
Dover Air Force Base, Dover, DE.
The law authorizing the test specified that beneficiaries
must be enrolled
in Medicare Part B in order to be eligible to participate in the subvention
program, also known as Tricare Senior. Part B pays for doctor visits,
outpatient services and certain medical equipment. If the beneficiary were
not enrolled in Part B, Medicare could not reimburse the military facility
for the beneficiary's care in these areas, which would defeat the purpose
of the test.
Surveys show about 7 percent of Medicare-eligibles
are not enrolled in Part
B. For each year the retiree delays such enrollment beyond age 65, the
Part B premium is increased by 10 percent. TROA and The Military Coalition
have been seeking legislation to waive the late enrollment penalty for
service retirees who declined Part B in the belief they would receive
lifetime health care at their local military facility. So far, though, we
have been unsuccessful in that quest.
What some may not realize is that people who have previously
B can't just enroll anytime they want. Medicare allows late enrollments
only between January 1 and March 31 of each year.
This means that any Medicare-eligibles who don't have
Part B coverage, but
hope to participate in the subvention test, have only a couple of weeks
left to contact the nearest Social Security office and sign up for Medicare
Part B. If you live in a subvention test area, please pass this
information to your Medicare-eligible friends.
One caution: enrollment in Part B won't guarantee
you a spot in the
subvention test. There will almost certainly be more applicants for the
test than the test facilities will be able to accommodate. The only thing
that's guaranteed is that you won't be in the test if you're not in Part B.
"Ballot Security" Bills Would Undermine Absentee Voting Rights
Two new House bills, H.R. 1139 and H.R. 2076 (introduced,
Reps Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Billy Tauzin (R-LA)) would impose new voting
restrictions that would make it significantly more difficult for military
members to exercise their absentee voting rights. H.R. 1139 would permit
States to require individuals to produce a photographic identification in
order to vote in an election for Federal office. H.R. 2076 would repeal
the requirement that states provide for voter registration by mail.
TROA cannot support these bills, though we believe
they have virtually no
chance of passing. Revocation of registration by mail or a requirement to
produce a photo ID when voting would make it virtually impossible for the
vast majority of active duty members to register and vote by absentee
ballot. Members stationed thousands of miles away from their home districts
on account of military orders have little other option than registration
and voting by mail. Under these bills, their compliance with military
orders would likely cost them this fundamental right of citizenship. TROA
and The Military Coalition are seeking stronger statutory guarantees of
military members' voting rights (as embodied in H.R. 699 and S. 278), and
we cannot support initiatives that would put those rights at increased