February 15, 2006
Family Programs Update
Volume 6, Number 4
This newsletter is published bi-monthly by the AUSA Family Programs Directorate. If you would like to receive the Family Programs Update by e-mail, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org type “subscribe” in the subject line.
In This Issue
- President’s 2007 Budget Proposal
- Who Pay’s the Bill?
- 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review
- Congress Passes Student Loan Relief for Deployed Troops
- United Concordia Begins Administering TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) Contract
- Proposed TRICARE Fee Increases Update
- More Drugs Move to Non-Formulary Status (Third Tier)
- PTSD Effect Pervasive Among Iraq Vets, Civilians
- AAFES Restricts Purchase of Medicines Containing Dextromethorphan
- Cartoonist Helps Troops, Fisher House
- The Army’s Marching Orders on Marriage
- Motorcycle Deaths Surge
President’s 2007 Budget Proposal
On February 08, 2006, The President submitted his budget proposal for fiscal year 2007 to Congress. For the highlights of the Department of Defense's portion of the budget as briefed to the Pentagon press go to http://www.dod.mil/releases/2006/nr20060206-12435.htm
Who Pay’s the Bill?
Who's going to pay for all their medical care? ABC's Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt, who were injured Sunday in an attack on a military convoy near Baghdad, returned to the U.S. on February 1. The embedded journalists were first airlifted to a military hospital in Germany, and then sent on to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The Department of Defense says that Woodruff's and Vogt's care will be charged to their insurance. Military Treatment Facilities (MTF's) generally accept payment via the government's health plan, called TRICARE. When a civilian without TRICARE coverage ends up in an MTF, his bills are paid through his private insurance plan. For complete story visit: http://www.slate.com/id/2135162/?nav=tap3
2005 Quadrennial Defense Review
On February 02, 2006 the Department of Defense released the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review.
Copies of the report are available on-line through http://www.defenselink.mil/qdr/
Congress Passes Student Loan Relief for Deployed Troops
A bill to provide student loan relief for Servicemembers whose college educations were disrupted by deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan has cleared both Houses of Congress and will be sent to the President for signature. A provision of S. 1932, passed on February 1 by the House of Representatives, would defer student-loan payments and the accrual of any interest on student loans for troops deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan called to military service before they are able to earn course credits. Refunds are not part of S. 1932. Under the bill, student loan payments can be deferred for up to three years for someone who is mobilized during a war, military operation or other emergency. Mobilization in either federal or state status could qualify a Servicemember for deferred payments on loans and interest accrual. Active-duty members temporarily assigned away from their permanent duty station qualify as well as Reserve Component Soldiers. The legislation applies to loans made since July 1, 2001. For complete story go to http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1506966.php
United Concordia Begins Administering TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) Contract
TRICARE Management Activity began its new TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) contract with United Concordia Companies Inc. on Feb. 1, 2006. The 2006 rates for TRICARE dental premiums will be effective February 1, 2006. The SELRES single premium will increase to $10.51, the SELRES single-family member premium increases to $26.27, and the SELRES Multi-family member rate increased to $65.68. Specific information on enrollment, premium costs, and benefits can be found at: www.TRICAREdentalprogram.com.
Proposed TRICARE Fee Increases Update
The proposed premium increases to TRICARE for the retirees under age 65 beneficiary group faces a tough uphill battle in Congress. At the TRICARE Conference earlier in the week, Congressional staffers from both the House and Senate Armed Services Committee announced that they would have to examine any DOD proposals closely. A HASC staffer stated that Members of Congress understand the importance of the health care benefit to service members, retirees, and their families. AUSA was a co-signer on a letter from The Military Coalition (TMC) in opposition to the proposed fee increases early in December. To view a copy of the TMC letter go to http://www.themilitarycoalition.org/library/05letters/08Dec05Warner.pdf
More Drugs Move to Non-Formulary Status (Third Tier)
AS of February 15, 2006, several drugs will move to the third co-payment tier of $22 for a 30 day supply at network retail pharmacies and $22 for a 90 day supply through the mail order pharmacy. Third tier drugs are not available at military treatment facility (MTF) pharmacies unless the prescription has been written by an MTF provider and medical necessity is established. The drugs moving to the third tier are: Alpha 1 Blockers (for prostate hypertrophy): Flomax, ACE Inhibitor/Diuretic (for high blood pressure): Accuretic, Uniretic and ACE Inhibitor (for high blood pressure): Aceon, Accupril, Quinapril, Altace, Univasc. For more information on the Uniform Formulary and drug tiers, go to: http://www.tricare.osd.mil/pharmacy/default.cfm.
PTSD Effect Pervasive Among Iraq Vets, Civilians
When it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder, the war in Iraq is affecting everyone — civilians and soldiers, males and females, Iraqis and Americans — said doctors at a panel at the National Press Club in Washington. But this time, as opposed to wars in the past, doctors know to look for the symptoms of PTSD as well as how to treat it. More soldiers maybe seeking help because they know the services are available. During the Vietnam War, doctors and soldiers did not know to look for the symptoms of PTSD, which include flashbacks, nightmares, lack of emotions, difficulty sleeping and irritability. For story details go to: http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1496269.php
AAFES Restricts Purchase of Medicines Containing Dextromethorphan
Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a common cough-suppressing ingredient contained in more than 140 over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. When taken as directed and used properly, DXM is safe, but recent media reports and research indicate abuse of DXM is becoming more of an issue than previously thought. While there is not yet a legal requirement to flag products with this ingredient, AAFES is voluntarily limiting sales of products with DXM to customers over the age of 18. For full story visit "More AAFES News" at: http://www.ausa.org/WEBpub/DeptFamilyPrograms.nsf/byid/SSHE-6LRP52
Cartoonist Helps Troops, Fisher House
Award-winning satirist Garry Trudeau of "Doonesbury" fame visited the Pentagon today to meet with troops wounded in the war on terror and present them autographed copies of his book featuring the healing process of a comic character he said they inspired. "The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time," tells the story of comic strip character "B.D.," a National Guardsman who lost his leg during the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq and suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Trudeau said he received much of the background and inspiration he uses to tell B.D.'s story in his Doonesbury strip from wounded troops he has met during numerous visits to Walter Reed and the Fisher House. In return, he's donating all proceeds from "The Long Road," a book compiled from the strip, to the Fisher House Foundation. For complete story and related sites visit: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jan2006/20060131_4060.html
The Army’s Marching Orders on Marriage
U.S. Army chaplains are trying to teach troops how to pick the right spouse, through a program called "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk." The matchmaking advice comes as military family life is being stressed: Defense Department records show that more than 56,000 people in the Army -- active-duty, National Guard and reserve -- have divorced since the campaign in Afghanistan started in 2001. For complete article please visit this site:
Motorcycle Deaths Surge
Since 9/11, more American troops have died in off-duty motorcycle accidents than fighting in Afghanistan. Nearly 350 GIs have died on bikes since the 2001 terrorist attacks compared with 259 killed while serving in Afghanistan, according to safety records kept by each service. The numbers who die in crashes each year -- nearly all in the United States -- has more than doubled since 2001, hitting new levels in 2005. Nearly 1,000 more have been injured, draining power when the Pentagon needs every soldier. A big part of the problem, say commanders at North Carolina bases, comes when soldiers return from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan with months of tax-free salaries and extra pay for combat and overseas service. They buy high-powered motorcycles and hit the streets to burn off adrenaline, testosterone and boredom. Dying on American roads after months or years of combat abroad seems to survivors like cruel irony. For complete article go to: http://www.newsobserver.com/689/story/396791.html