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P.O. Box 155 , Somers Point, New Jersey

Clark-Eliason Post 352

January 29, 2014
Rich, I ask what and when Governor Christie will do “to urge the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs to take appropriate action to expand health care access for military Veterans living in the southern part of New Jersey”. Per the legislation sponsored and supported by the New Jersey 9th District Legislators Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove. See details below.
Please let me know what and when Governor Christie will do and what the all of the Veterans in southern New Jersey can do to support him
“Senate Passes Connors-Rumpf-Gove Supported South Jersey Veterans Health Care Initiative”
January 9, 2014  Contact: Jason Smith / (609) 693-6700
Legislation sponsored and supported by 9th District Legislators Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove that contains the recommendations issued by the Veterans’ Hospital Task Force for a comprehensive plan for expanding health care access for military veterans living in the southern part of the state has passed the State Senate. The measure passed the Assembly this past June.
The 9th District Delegation sponsored the law that originally established the Task Force. Subsequently, Senator Connors and Assemblywoman Gove were named to the Task Force by the Governor. The bipartisan-supported Concurrent Resolution (ACR-177/SCR-142) urges the federal Department of Veterans Affairs to take appropriate action to expand health care access for military veterans living in the southern part of the state. Connors, Rumpf and Gove issued the following statement following the Senate’s action on this veterans’ initiative:
“Testimony provided during the Task Force’s hearings demonstrated that there is a compelling need to expand health care options for veterans living in the southern end of the state to meet their medical needs and raise their quality of life. Under the current system many veterans living in the area endure hardships, including having to travel unreasonable distances to VA facilities located in north Jersey or another state in order to receive medical treatment.
“The construction of a veterans’ hospital in south Jersey was one of first options the Task Force considered. After thorough deliberation, the portability of health insurance emerged as a more realistic and attractive option whereby veterans could receive medical care from local non-VA facilities when it became readily apparent that building a new facility would be cost prohibitive.”
“Unquestionably, the VA’s dedicated personnel have capably and compassionately delivered medical services to our veterans over the decades. That stated systemic changes are in order as was illustrated by the testimony provided by many south Jersey veterans that centered on the hardships created under the current system.”
“Given its unequaled experience in treating veterans, the legislation supports the Task Force’s recommendation that the VA administer a pilot program which would be created to give area veterans greater access to local medical centers. Our Delegation strongly believes such an initiative would not only greatly enhance healthcare opportunities for all veterans living in southern New Jersey but would, very likely, prove to be a more cost effective system of providing high-quality care.”
The legislation urges the VA to support the following recommendations:
·         Recognize that the deficiencies in the healthcare needs of veterans living in southern New Jersey is a serious problem that must be addressed as soon as possible;
·         Assuming that the construction of a new veterans’ healthcare facility in southern New Jersey is not feasible, create a pilot program to give area veterans greater access to local medical centers, including AtlantiCare, the Bacharach Institute of Rehabilitation, Cape May Regional Medical Center, the Virtua System, Shore Memorial Hospital, the Inspira Health Network, and the Meridian Health Care System, which represent just a few health care facilities that are interested in participating in the pilot program;
·         Recognize that such a pilot program, administered by the department, would save money and greatly enhance healthcare opportunities for all veterans living in southern New Jersey;
·         Move Ocean County into the Veterans’ Integrated Service Network 4 from its current VISN, so that veterans from that county, which has the greatest number of veterans in the State, would no longer need to travel to East Orange, Wilmington or Philadelphia for needed healthcare services;
·         Provide additional information about the healthcare services that are already available to veterans living in southern New Jersey;
·         Focus greater attention on the healthcare needs of women veterans; and provide additional staffing to the Northfield Veterans’ Clinic, which is an admirable facility but lacks sufficient staff to address adequately the needs of local veterans.
Subsequent to passing both Houses of the Legislature, ACR-177/SCR-142 was filed with the Secretary of State.

DoD Budget Plan Takes Aim at TRICARE
February 27, 2014 | Terry Howell
The proposed 2015 DoD budget could kill TRICARE Prime and increase out-of-pocket medical expenses for dependents and retirees.
Much of the first reports on the proposed 2015 defense budget didn’t necessarily focus on the details or specific areas to be cut. Many of details won’t be available until March 4th. However, there are some details available on one of the most significant benefits areas to be hit – TRICARE.
TRICARE, originally named for its three levels of health care coverage (Prime, Extra, and Standard), has been providing affordable healthcare coverage for military dependents and retirees for nearly 20 years. But, according to columnist Ton Philpott’s recent Military Update, the DoD is proposing to merge the three options into a single fee-for-service insurance option, similar to the current Standard option.

The proposed changes to TRICARE would not affect active-duty servicemembers access to free healthcare, but their dependents and working-age military retirees would face higher costs to include a share of medical expenses and perhaps a new annual enrollment fee, set initially at $285 for individuals and $569 for families.
Beneficiaries could see lower costs if they use military treatment facilities or “preferred” care providers who offer military discounts. However, the plans include charging retirees a new co-pays for using  on-base treatment facilities. New co-pays also would be set for military families and retirees who use emergency rooms inappropriately for routine care.
Philpott reports that TRICARE Prime would likely end as defense health officials continue to argue that Prime is too costly to operate for the military.
According to Philpott, beneficiaries 65 and older would continue to have access to TRICARE for Life, but, they would face a new enrollment fee. It might be set at one percent of military retired pay but capped so as not to exceed $300 a year.
On the upside, many believe that most of the DoD’s proposed benefit cuts are not likely to get passed Congress.  The question is, which ones will?
Stay tuned as more details will be available March 4 when the budget is formally rolled-out.
For more details on Pay Caps, Commisary Cuts and BAH Reductions, read Tom Philpott’s full article.

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