SEQUESTRATION UPDATE: Veterans’ health care funding may be exempt from automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that are due to begin in January, but military health care is not — and a new think-tank report says Congress would have to reprogram $3 billion from other Defense Department budget accounts to fully pay for military health care should the cuts occur. DoD personnel programs are exempt from the 10 percent cuts under sequestration, including basic pay, allowances for housing and subsistence, retirement pay, and bonuses. The Budget Control Act of 2011 also exempted veterans’ benefits. In April, the White House announced veterans medical care expenses also are exempt. But health care for military personnel and families, including Tricare, fall under DoD’s operations and maintenance programs and consequently could suffer as a result of the cuts, known as sequestration.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta held a closed-door meeting July 23 to detail four possible scenarios facing the department regarding sequestration. According to a source who attended, the scenarios the Pentagon is considering include:
• Congress does not act and sequestration happens.
• During the lame-duck session of Congress, a plan is constructed to thwart sequestration.
• Congress comes up with a $1.2 trillion plan to avert sequestration between now and the November election.
• Congress inserts language into a continuing resolution to stave off sequestration for a year or two, but the government still implements cuts, sometimes referred to as a “mini-sequester.”
[Source: The Leaf Chronicle Patricia Kime article 28 Aug 2012]
MILCONNECT WEBSITE: The milConnect website is the Defense Manpower Data Center’s online portal that gives you access to your information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. The website is located at www.milconnect.dmdc.mil. MilConnect allows you to:
• Receive alerts when a change in your benefit occurs.
• Access health care information about TRICARE, other health insurance, premiums, fees and claims (catastrophic cap and deductibles) and immunizations.
• Print proof-of-insurance/eligibility letters.
• Review and update (where applicable) personnel information.
• Review and update your civilian employment information and your most recent active duty information if you are a National Guard or Reserve member.
• Update your display name for the Department of Defense (DoD) Global Address List (GAL) and update duty information.
• Transfer your education benefits.
• Update contact information in DEERS instantly.
• Find answers to frequently asked questions.
• Review Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance information.
• View, print and save eCorrespondence regarding benefits.
You can log on to milConnect’s secure website by using a Common Access Card (CAC), Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) user name and password or DoD Self-Service Logon (DS Logon). Family members and those without CACs or DFAS pins will need to sign up for a DS Logon to sign in to milConnect. You may request a DS Logon online by clicking the “Sign Up” button on milConnect or by visiting www.dmdc.osd.mil/identitymanagement. You may also visit a TRICARE Service Center or a Veterans Affairs
Regional Office to complete an in-person proofing process. Non-CAC holders who need a new uniformed services ID card can visit an ID card-issuing facility and request a DS Logon at the same time. [Source: TRICARE Standard Health Matters 2012 E-Publication Aug 2012]
TRICARE PREVENTIVE HEALTH PROGRAM UPDATE: TRICARE covers many preventive medical services including preventive health screenings. As a TRICARE standard beneficiary, you can receive the following preventive medical services for no out-of-pocket costs:
• Prostate cancer screening: Annual prostate exams and prostate-specific antigen tests for men age 50 and older and those under 40 who have family histories of prostate cancer.
• Breast cancer screening: Annual mammograms for women are covered beginning at age 40. Women younger than 40 who with a high risk for breast cancer may also be covered by TRICARE.
• Cervical cancer screening: A pap smear annually for women starting at age 18 (younger if sexually active) or less often at patient and provider discretion (though not less than every three years). HPV DNA testing is covered as a cervical cancer screening only when performed in conjunction with a Pap smear, and only for women age 30 and older.
• Colorectal cancer screening: Bbeginning at age 50 for beneficiaries at average risk. If you have an increased risk for colon cancer due to family medical history or other risk factors, talk to your doctor about starting screenings at an earlier age.
• Well-child care: Covers children from birth until age 6. Includes comprehensive health promotion and disease-prevention exams, immunizations and developmental and behavioral assessments. No more than nine visits in two years.
• Immunizations: TRICARE covers age-appropriate vaccinations, including annual flu shots, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Note: If you are at risk for specific diseases, talk to your doctor about your individual and family medical history to determine when you should begin preventive screenings. For additional information Visit www.tricare.mil/preventivecare. [Source: TRICARE Standard Health Matters 2012 E-Publication Aug 2012]
VA TINNITUS CARE UPDATE: Ex-soldiers suffering from tinnitus related to their military service will have access to a nonsurgical, nonpharmacological treatment that uses low-level tones to relieve the often debilitating condition. The device’s sound patterns are customized for each patients based on a clinical evaluation of their normal hearing as well as their tinnitus. [Source: MedPage Today John Gever Clinical Notes 26 Aug 2012]
VA CANCER TREATMENT UPDATE: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it would embark on a “phased implementation” of CT lung cancer screening for veterans after taking inspiration from a national trial that found the scans could help save lives among certain high-risk populations. The department said the program would begin at six yet-to-be-named VA hospitals as a clinical demonstration project. The program was inspired by the National Lung Screening Trial and found that after three rounds of screening, high-risk patients — in this case, current or former heavy smokers — were 20 percent less likely to die if they were screened with lung CT scans rather than simple chest X-rays.
The Lung Cancer Alliance, a nonprofit, first broke the news that the VA would start lung cancer CT screening earlier this month, saying the department told them in a letter after the LCA had pushed for the VA to offer CT screenings to veterans.
The American Lung Association tentatively supports similar screening recommendations, although the group urges patients to discuss the issue with their doctors, according to an April report the ALA prepared on the subject.
Still, lung cancer CT screening is not without controversy, amid worries about the risks of ionizing radiation from the scans and patients getting false positives. The ALA also said the scans, which are often not covered by health plans, typically cost between $300 and $500. [Source: DotMed News Brendon Nafziger article 27 Aug 2012]
WEST NILE DISEASE: This summer’s West Nile virus (WNV) outbreak is on track to be the biggest since the disease first reached the United States in 1999. So far this year, 1,118 people have been infected – and 41 of them have died, according to the latest numbers from the CDC. The agency has never before seen that many infections in people as of this time of year. WNV is a relatively new infectious disease. It’s not considered to be contagious: the virus isn’t transmitted from person to person like the common cold – only by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most of this year’s cases are in Texas, with Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Oklahoma coming in second place. To find out if any of this year’s cases or deaths occurred in your state or check its progress as time passes check out the CDC’s infection map and table at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/Mapsactivity/surv&control12MapsAnybyState.htm
Tips for protection:
• Flush out mosquitoes.
• Make sure all your windows have a screen without any gaps or holes that a mosquito could fit through.
• Wear pants and long-sleeve shirts outside when possible.
• Protect your skin with a bug repellant that contains an active ingredient that’s registered with the EPA.
• Avoid twilight.
• Report dead birds to authorities. [Source: MoneyTalksNews Karla Bowsher article 28 Aug 2012]
FLAGS: The American Legion Post 70 has on hand American flags, all of the military service flags, POW/MIA flags, and SC State flags. Contact a member of Post 70 to purchase flags; the cost is $5.
AMERICAN LEGION POST 70 - Meeting at 1800 on the third Tuesday of the month. For more information, please contact Thomas Crisp at 940-2793.
AMERICAN LEGION POST 24, of Newberry, meeting is on the second Tuesday of the month at 1830.
THE AMERICAN LEGION AUXILIARY – UNIT 24 meet the same day at 3 p.m. at Post 24