October 28, 2014

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
I turn 65 on Feb 2015 and I’m already enrolled in Medicare part A&B. My wife won’t turn 65 for 9 more years. How does this affect her Tricare coverage?

Joe Y
Via the internet

Dear Joe
Your spouse will continue under either Tricare Prime or Standard until she turns age 65. So nothing changes for her.

Shaft Notes
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced it is currently accepting proposals for the Assisted Living Pilot Program for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (AL-TBI). The program had been slated to sunset this year, however the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (“Choice Act”) extends the program through October 6, 2017.

“Due to the severity and complexity of their injuries, Veterans with TBI can require an extraordinary level of care and other support services,” said Interim Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Carolyn Clancy. “The AL-TBI program provides specialized assisted living services to eligible Veterans with traumatic brain injury to enhance their rehabilitation, quality of life and community integration.”

Under the AL-TBI program, Veterans meeting the eligibility criteria are placed in private sector TBI residential care facilities specializing in neurobehavioral rehabilitation. The program offers team-based care and assistance in areas such as speech, memory and mobility.  Approximately 187 Veterans were enrolled into the AL-TBI Pilot Program in 46 different facilities located in 22 states.  Currently, there are 94 Veterans enrolled in the pilot.

The extension of the program offers opportunities for providers wishing to participate in the program. VA is accepting proposals through November 20, 2014.  To be eligible, contractor facilities must meet Federal, State and local standards and be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in Residential Rehabilitation/Brain Injury Program. Contracts for the extended program are expected to be awarded in February 2015.

For more information about the AL-TBI Request for Proposal, visit https://www.fbo.gov/spg/VA/VADDC791/VADDC791/VA79114R0074/listing.html. For more information about the AL-TBI program, visit www.polytrauma.va.gov.

Working with Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and other stakeholders, VA has taken steps to implement the Choice Act legislation. In addition to the AL-TBI extension, VA is:

  • Continuing work with its newly established Program Management Office to oversee planning and implementation of the Choice Act legislation across the Department;
  • Putting in place the mechanisms to provide the authorization necessary to carry out major medical facility leases;
    • Extending the pilot program called Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home) through March 31, 2015, and exploring additional contracting options to execute the remaining 18 months of the pilot program;  
    • Seeking industry’s input on addressing third party administrator services through VA- sponsored events such as Industry Day held on September 17, 2014;  
  • Awarding a contract to the MITRE Corporation, Alliance to Modernize Healthcare, a private not-for-profit company, to support the Independent Assessment of VA health care processes; and
  • Expanding the Fry Scholarship Program to include surviving spouses of Servicemembers killed on active duty.

Congratulations to Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) on being named by The political newspaper, The Hill, as one of the top lobbying associations in Washington, D.C., for the eighth consecutive year. 

According to The Hill ,  “The Hill Top Lobbyists list are the advocates, lobbyists and professional agitators who shape the policy decisions made in the nation’s capital.  From “hired guns” who run into battle for their clients, to association heads who wield the power of industries, to union leaders who exert might through membership, the names are players to know in the competitive world of Washington advocacy.”

The Hill particularly cited retired Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, MOAA’s President. “The retired vice admiral will continue the association’s fierce fight against the Pentagon and some lawmakers to protect troop pay and benefits from budget cuts,” The Hill stated.

“We are again extremely proud and humbled to be recognized by The Hill,” Ryan said. “It takes a team effort from our board of directors, our entire staff, our strong chapter system, our partners and our terrific, dedicated members that give us One Powerful Voice! We will rely even more on that entire team in the challenging months ahead.”

“Our mission is incredibly rewarding.  There is no segment of the American people more deserving of our advocacy than all of those who have answered the call to serve our nation and their families.”

Following VA’s announcement that it has removed the director of the Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement.

“I’m pleased the department has finally reached the same conclusion about James Talton that nearly every person familiar with CAVHCS’s problems came to long ago. It’s unfortunate, however, that VA’s action comes only after Talton was on paid leave for more than two months – an expense that can only be described as a waste of taxpayer dollars. Regardless of this decision, it’s clear the department needs to move much more quickly to purge other disgraced personnel from its payroll, especially the CAVHCS employee who took a veteran to a crack house and Sharon Helman, the face of the VA scandal who has been on indefinite paid leave for nearly six months.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will begin accepting applications by mail on Monday, November 3, 2014, for the Fry Scholarship under newly expanded eligibility criteria to include surviving spouses. The expanded criteria for the Fry Scholarship is the latest in a series of VA actions to implement provisions of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (“Choice Act”).

Specifically, Section 701 of the Choice Act expands the Fry Scholarship to include the surviving spouses of Servicemembers who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. Prior to this expansion, only children of those who died in the line of duty were eligible for this benefit.


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