-- http://w11.zetaboards.com/CFLNewsChat/topic/10387883/1 (Index of Previous Articles as of 7/1/15)
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Lt. James “EMO” Tichacek, USN (Ret)
DELETE the end-paragraph of the Bulletin before you forward it to others. The end-paragraph following this Note is required by law and offers the recipient an opportunity to “UNSUBSCRIBE”, if they choose to. However, the “unsubscribe” link contains your email address and whoever receives your re-distribution has the opportunity, whether purposely or inadvertently, to terminate your vice their future receipt of Bulletin messages. * DoD *
Commissary Policy Changes Update 02 ►Cost-Plus-5% Possible Repeal Defense officials appear ready to ask Congress to repeal a law that commissaries must sell products at cost plus five percent, a formula that for decades has ensured commissary shoppers everywhere pay the same prices. Officials have drafted a replacement formula that would allow prices to vary from store to store to meet a new twin goal: reducing taxpayer support for commissaries while maintaining still attractive savings for patrons. Variable pricing would seek to keep savings consistent across the commissary system by pegging local commissary prices for a market basket of goods at some target percentage level below prices of "lowest-price" competitors nearby such as Wal-Mart stores. [Source: NAUS Weekly Update | August 14, 2015 ++]
DoD 2015 Budget Update 02 ► $900M Tricare Shortfall The Department of Defense told Congress on 16 JUL that TRICARE, the military health system, is running out of money for the fiscal year that ends 30 SEP. They are asking Congress to authorize the re-programming of $900 million from within the DOD budget, according to MilitaryTimes.com. According to Pentagon officials DOD could possibly run out of money to pay private-sector care costs by late July. This would force DOD to halt payments to civilian doctors and could possibly cause disruption in the direct care system. Again, the letter requests that the funds be allowed to come from money that already been appropriated elsewhere within DOD's massive budget and not from new money.
The letter cites the growth in health care costs that are being driven in part by the rising cost of drugs obtained by beneficiaries through retail pharmacies. In years past the Pentagon has taken leftover funds from the TRICARE system and re-programmed them so that they could be used for other DOD program even as the Pentagon urged Congress to raise health care fees for retirees and for some military families. But Congress has thankfully refused to balance the budget on the backs of those who have served our country honorably. to read the letter refer to TRICARE SHORTFALL http://filemanager.capwiz.com/filemanager/file-mgr/trea/TricareShortfall.pdf. This should not be confused with the VA $3.4B health care shortfall for which Congress has already taken action. [Source: TREA Washington Update | August 3, 2015 ++]
NDAA for 2016 Update 14 ►Stuck | Compensation & Retirement Reform Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed versions of the fiscal year (FY) 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The two chambers are now negotiating a final bill, but according to press reports, the negotiators are stuck on the details of a major military compensation and retirement reform proposal. Both chambers of Congress included a similar major reform in military retirement, but each differs in the specifics of the benefits and how to pay for them. When considering this debate, a few things should be kept in mind.
First, when discussing Department of Defense (DOD) personnel and benefits reforms, there are two basic ways to achieve financial savings: change the system or pass the costs on to the service members. The reform proposals outlined below include examples of both. Increasing the enrollment fee for TRICARE—the health care program for uniformed service members—is passing a cost directly to a service member or military retiree. An investment-based retirement system, on the other hand, uses the power of markets to create value for service members and reduce costs to the government and, hence, to taxpayers. Increasing TRICARE co-pays likely has a bit of both: Some costs are passed to service members, but by incentivizing certain behaviors (using preferred facilities or generic drugs), systemic savings can also be achieved.
Second, many argue that rising personnel costs are a major problem for DOD. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates famously stated that “health care costs are eating the Department of Defense alive.” At the same time, others argue that DOD’s personnel costs are not problematic because the share of the DOD budget for personnel costs has remained fairly steady over time.
An analysis of the DOD budget shows that both sides are somewhat correct. Military pay and benefits constituted 34.6 percent of DOD’s budget in 2001 and 35.5 percent of the budget in 2015. However, the cost per service member has risen dramatically. In 2014 dollars, the cost per service member has gone from roughly $93,000 in 2001 to approximately $133,000 in 2015, an increase of over 40 percent. By comparison, the cost per DOD civilian employee increased by just under 20 percent over the same period. Since 2012, however, the inflation-adjusted cost per service member and per civilian has been remarkably static.