Legislative Update - February 2020

The good news is the NDAA passed and was signed into law. Included in it was the elimination of the “Widows’ Tax” (Finally!); however, nothing happens in 2020. The actual pay implementation will not start until 2021. Likewise, we were happy MOAA's advocacy efforts paid off with legislation halting military medical billet cuts. The fight to ensure Military Health System (MHS) Reform improves the military health care benefit is far from over. Despite concerns from advocacy groups, the recently enacted NDAA indicates Congress is not backing down on its vision for MHS Reform.

For decades, various committees, commissions and federal government entities have issued reports highlighting a need to re-evaluate or restructure the MHS. It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of Congressionally directed change cur-rently underway within the MHS. The FY17 NDAA alone includes 131 pages of MHS Reform provisions. It is helpful to think about MHS reform in terms of three main lines of effort: TriCare reform, the Transition of all US military hos-pitals under a single administration and management structure, and Transfor-mation which includes a reconfiguration of the direct care system with a greater focus on readiness and maintaining medical provider currency.

Transformation hasn’t officially started but will eventually include right-sizing, realignment, and expanded eligibility for MTF care for veterans. MOAA is con-cerned that DoD has so far approached MHS Reform as a cost-cutting exercise, without the focus on readiness and beneficiary care improvements Congress in-tended. Our 2020 health care advocacy efforts will be laser focused on ensuring MHS Reform improves care for beneficiaries while maintaining the value of the military health benefit.

This year’s Storming event happens the last week of March. You can find more information on this year’s issues in the forthcoming Military Officer magazine and on the MOAA web site (http://.moaa.org).

On a separate topic, the Illinois House Bill -34, extending the disabled veteran’s property tax exception to the surviving spouse is still in committee. Please en-courage your Illinois legislators to support moving the Bill forward for ultimate passage.

Chapter Legislative Liaison: Dr. Robert Tyler, Col USMC, Ret