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washingtonscene


\\ COLA News // COLA Climbs


Is this the light at the end of the no-COLA tun- nel? The May Consumer Price Index is 0.1 percent above the FY 2014 COLA baseline. You can follow the monthly trends for yourself at www.moaa .org/colawatch.


and likely made permanent under the shared language in both the House and Senate versions of the FY 2017 Defense Authorization Bill. DoD says it needs more time to dis-


cover whether additional operations can be privatized that would decrease cost and improve overall efficiency in delivering the benefit. DoD maintains its first priority remains preserving the benefit for patrons; closures and reduced savings do not meet that criterion. MOAA members sent thousands of messages to their senators opposing com- missary privatization. We are grateful DoD and Congress recognized how impor- tant the commissary benefit is to the mili- tary community and action to privatize the system is no longer an option in the defense bill.


Adding Insult to


(Severe) Injury Why are we charging severely disabled servicemembers?


T


hough some progress has been made in addressing issues severely wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers encounter, two statu- tory issues are proving problematic. The first involves the deduction of VA disability compensation from service- earned military retired pay. Congress has provided some signifi-


cant relief on that front, prioritizing the most severely disabled and the combat-disabled. MOAA strongly believes in the prin- ciple that no disabled retiree, regardless of disability percentage, should have to fund his or her own disability compen- sation by forfeiting an equal amount of service-earned retired pay.


36 MILITARY OFFICER AUGUST 2016


But MOAA finds it particularly inequi- table that one group of severely disabled retirees was excluded from any relief: those who have been medically retired for noncombat disabilities with less than 20 years of service. Under current law, a 20-year retiree with a 10-percent combat-related disabil- ity (rightly) suffers no retired-pay offset. But those who suffer a noncombat


service-caused injury that leaves them a 100-percent disabled quadriplegic and are medically retired with two to 19 years’ service must forfeit most or all of their military retired pay under the cur- rent VA offset law. That’s plain wrong. Sen. Harry Reid


(D-Nev.) offered several amendment op- tions to correct that in the FY 2017 De- fense Authorization Bill. But a rules flap on the Senate floor scuttled those — and hundreds of other amendments — to the frustration of all concerned. The second statutory inequity stems


from the requirement for severely dis- abled military retirees (including many in their 20s) to enroll in Medicare and pay Medicare Part B premiums of $105 a month. Had these members not had the misfortune of becoming 100-percent disabled in service, the military would have covered their health care until re- tirement, and they wouldn’t have had to enroll in Medicare until age 65. MOAA believes 100-percent service-


disabled retirees either should be exempt from paying Medicare enrollment fees until age 65 or DoD should provide them an allowance to offset the fee. Both op- tions have proven problematic, mainly for funding reasons. MOAA understands funding for de- fense is not unlimited. What we don’t understand is, of all the things DoD spends money on, why preventing


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