House Armed Services Defense Authorization Bill Submitted by Lew Nyman (June 25, 2017)
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) subcommittees released their markups of the FY 2018 defense authorization bill this week, providing milder recommendations than in years past. The active duty pay raise will match the Employment Cost Index at 2.4 percent. This is a welcome change from the president's budget request of a 2.1-percent raise, which would have widened the existing pay gap between the military and private sector. For the first time in many years, the mark includes a provision aimed at supporting military spouse employment. It would allow for reimbursement of up to $500 in expenses when a military spouse must acquire a new license or certification as a result of a PCS to a new state.
On the TRICARE front, unlike the budget the DoD recently proposed, the HASC bill proposes no changes for TRICARE For Life, TRICARE Prime, or last year's new TRICARE Select, and it maintains the current grandfathered fee structure. The new fee structure begins only for those future service entrants after Jan. 1, 2018. This bill would continue to grandfather currently serving and retired servicemembers and families against the large fee hikes proposed in last year's defense authorization bill.
Other proposed changes to health care include clarifying the roles of the services' surgeons general, placing greater emphasis on their responsibility for the provision of readiness training at their respective military treatment facilities (MTFs), and prohibiting DoD from reducing inpatient capacity at overseas MTFs.
All in all, MOAA supports the HASC's balanced approach to reforming military personnel policies and especially appreciates the committee's rejection of the large TRICARE fee increases proposed in the FY 2018 DoD budget.