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Long Waits for Medical Care

posted Jul 22, 2014, 9:03 PM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Jul 22, 2014, 9:10 PM ]

S. Amendment 3237 to H.R.3230
Veterans' Access to Care through Choice,
Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014


Vote Passed (93-3, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate passed a bill to allow veterans experiencing long wait times or who live more than 40 miles from a Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility to see doctors outside the VA health system, as long as the doctors participate in the Medicare program or are at a federally qualified health center, Defense Department facility or a facility funded by the Indian Health Service. It would also authorize the VA secretary to demote or fire poor-performing Senior Executive Service employees.

Missouri Senate ties up over the state budget

posted Jun 28, 2012, 7:52 AM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Jun 28, 2012, 7:52 AM ]

CALLING ALL MISSOURIANS!!! CHECK THIS OUT...

See the below article what Crowell and Cunningham are doing to hold up unrelated issues Senate Bill 498 deals with veteran issues: the thrift store to have the same rights as other charitable organizations- Passed the house and Senate without a single NO vote. Funding for the “veteran houses” in the State (which was added to the Bill May 2nd, 2012)

Brian.Munzlinger@senate.mo.gov       Sponsor of the Bill
Jason.Crowell@senate.mo.gov             Holding up Veterans
Jane.Cunningham@senate.mo.gov       Holding up Veterans

An attempt to pass legislation to create a dedicated funding source for Missouri veterans' homes has stalled in the Senate _ at least temporarily.

Lawmakers generally agree that the veteran's nursing home legislation is critical for Missouri's proposed $24 billion operating budget, yet senators debated from Monday afternoon into early Tuesday morning without being able to come to a vote on the legislation.

Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, has vowed to hold up the veterans' legislation  and any other issue brought to the Senate floor _ until his concerns over other budgetary issues are addressed. Crowell has the backing of several other Republican senators who also have particular beefs with the proposed budget and state policies.

"I know how to tie up the floor, and I'll do it," Crowell warned his colleagues on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said he hopes some additional time will help cool tempers and lead to a solution. But Dempsey appeared set on pushing the veterans' funding legislation to a vote.

"From my standpoint, the veterans' funding bill is the most important bill that we have to do, and until we resolve this issue, I mean I really don't want to do anything else," Dempsey said.

Missouri's veterans' nursing homes currently are funded by payments from residents, federal money, state general revenues and $6 million annually from state fees collected from casinos. But the main trust fund for the Missouri Veterans Commission has shrunk from $80 million in 1999 to $17 million after being repeatedly tapped when general revenue appropriations declined.

The legislation would earmark about $30 million more annually in casino fees to the veterans' fund. Early childhood programs that currently benefit from the casino fees would instead be funded with $35 million from Missouri's share of a nationwide settlement with tobacco companies. That would force more money shifting.

Lawmakers expect that about $35 million would have to be pulled out of the state's basic funding formula for K-12 public schools to offset the loss of tobacco funds that currently go into state general revenues and the Medicaid program. The plan assumes that the Missouri Lottery would generate $35 million in additional revenues for education, but it is not clear how the lottery would come up with that extra money.

Crowell helped come up with the veterans' funding plan. But he's holding it up because of he doesn't like a proposed $2 million funding increase for Southeast Missouri State University, which is supported by House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville. That issue is still pending before House and Senate budget negotiators.

Others, such as Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, participated in holding up the veterans' bill because they want wording included in legislation that would bar the state from implementing a quality rating system for preschools and child-care centers and would prohibit the University of Missouri-St. Louis from running a nonpartisan political institute for women which some Republican lawmakers contend has been used to churn out Democratic politicians.

Senator Claire McCaskill - June 25, 2012

posted Jun 28, 2012, 7:51 AM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Jun 28, 2012, 7:51 AM ]

From: senator@mccaskill.senate.gov [mailto:senator@mccaskill.senate.gov]
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2012 8:42 AM
To: nesloventures.net
Subject: Reply from Senator McCaskill

 

June 25, 2012

Dear Neslo Ventures,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the interests of servicemembers and veterans as Congress addresses our nation's deficit and long-term debt.  I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever to protect the benefits and care that our military members have earned.  Whether they are currently deployed overseas, serving and training back home, or were honorably discharged years ago, I remain committed to ensuring our brave men and women in uniform are properly and fully supported.

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense requested authority to raise certain TRICARE fees on military retirees.  I am opposed to the Department's request, which is why I am proud the Senate Armed Services Committee, on which I serve, has rejected additional TRICARE fees in the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.  While I believe there are savings to be had in the Pentagon's budget, we must not balance our nation's budget on the backs of our veterans who have already borne the cost of protecting our freedom.

As the budget debates continue in Congress, I know that many Missourians like you are watching with tremendous personal interest.  As Congress works to address our budget deficit and our long-term debt -- which former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen labeled our most significant national security challenge -- some have become increasingly concerned that hard-won victories for wounded servicemembers and veterans may be jeopardized.  I will be working on behalf of our nation's veterans to make sure that this does not happen.

While in the Senate, two of my most significant priorities have been reducing Washington's spending and advocating on behalf of those who have fought to secure our freedom.  I am proud to say that I have voted against every bloated omnibus spending bill that has come before me and have never requested an earmark.  I have also successfully worked with my colleagues to ensure that veterans have received significantly increased resources after an era of too many attempts to short change veterans.

Whether fully funding the independent budget of major Veterans Service Organizations for the first time, drastically reforming how we support our most recent wounded warriors, winning critical increases in mileage reimbursement rates for disabled veterans traveling to receive care, or increasing the numbers of claim processors to address the claims backlog at the Veterans Administration, we have made important progress for our nation's veterans.  Please know that I remain committed to ensuring that our military heroes - past, present and future - receive the support and benefits they earned.  Thank you for your service and for your commitment to veterans.  God bless and God bless our country.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Sincerely,

Claire McCaskill
United States Senator

P.S. If you would like more information about resources that can help Missourians, or what I am doing in the Senate on your behalf, please sign up for my email newsletter at http://mccaskill.senate.gov.

Increase Funding for the VA Health Care System

posted Jun 2, 2012, 5:19 AM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Jun 2, 2012, 5:19 AM ]

Friday, June 01, 2012

Earlier this year, DAV and our partner organizations in The Independent Budget, recommended that funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) FY 2013 health care budget be increased by $3.8 billion in order to meet increased demand and rising health care costs. By contrast, the Administration’s budget proposal called for a $2.3 billion increase for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), a difference of $1.5 billion. We strongly believe the additional funds we identified can be put to effective use within VA, including better meeting the needs of new veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On May 31, by a vote of 407-12, the House passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. The bill includes a measure that would boost suicide prevention and homeless assistance funds for veterans. It would also provide $71.7 billion in discretionary funding for veterans’ benefits about four percent above the FY 2012 level, but $1.5 billion less than The Independent Budget recommendation.

Recently, we saw evidence of the negative effects of inadequate funding at a Senate hearing when witnesses testified that VA is failing to meet the mental health needs of the veterans it should be serving. VA’s Inspector General reported that these problems were caused by a multiplicity of factors, including funding and staffing shortages, and lack of quick, easy access by veterans to VA’s many mental health programs. The Inspector General’s findings are consistent with DAV’s own internal survey of the VA mental health care system that showed serious problems with access and response for veterans seeking care.

If you or a family member have experience with VA mental health care and would like to add your voice to our continuing survey, please complete the survey here

We need grassroots support: please use the prepared e-mail to write your Senators to urge them to increase funding for VA’s FY 2013 appropriation by at least $1.5 billion for medical care services to match or exceed the recommendations of the Independent Budget. We are concerned that failure to provide this increase could lead to further disruptions of VA health care and other vital programs, including its critical mental health efforts.

As always, we at DAV are grateful for your participation in our legislative and grassroots advocacy program. Without your active assistance DAV would not be able to accomplish many of our goals in support of the interests of sick and disabled veterans.

President Obama calls for TRICARE Fee Increases

posted Jan 23, 2012, 10:07 PM by Dawn Olsen   [ updated Jan 23, 2012, 10:07 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

Courtesy of The Military Wallet 10/04/2011

President Obama recently released a $4.4 trillion deficit-reduction plan, and military benefits were a large part of the proposed cuts. Increases to TRICARE fees were included in the President’s plan, in addition to proposed cuts to military retirement benefits. The proposed increases in TRICARE fees include charging an enrollment fee for TRICARE for Life members, and increasing TRICARE pharmacy co-pays for military beneficiaries.

Proposed TRICARE for Life Enrollment Fees

TRICARE for Life is available to military retirees who are age 65 and older.  They currently do not pay an enrollment fee to participate in TRICARE for Life. Part of President Obama’s deficit-reduction proposal include a $200 annual enrollment fee for military retirees to continue receiving military health care benefits. If approved and voted into law, the increased TRICARE For Life enrollment fees would not begin until Fiscal year 2013. This is expected to generate over $6.7 billion in revenues over the next 10 years.

TRICARE prescription co-pay increases may be coming soon. The Department of Defense (DoD) has also proposed increased co-pays for prescription drugs to help make up for budget shortfalls and help decrease the gap between the enrollment fees and actual costs. These increases have not yet been approved, and would likely be based on a percentage of the government’s cost of the medicines.

TRICARE Prime Enrollment Fee Increases

If you are enrolled in TRICARE Prime, then you will see a small increase in your TRICARE Prime enrollment fees in 2012. Stating on October 1, 2011 (fiscal year 2012), the new annual fees for TRICARE Prime enrollment are $260 and $520 for individual and family plans, an annual increase of $30 for individuals, and $60 for families. The price increases work out to an additional $5 per month for a family enrollment, or an additional $2.50 per month for a single retiree.

These enrollment fees apply to retired uniformed servicemembers, eligible family members, survivors, and eligible former spouses of TRICARE Prime members. Members who are currently enrolled in TRICARE Prime will not have to pay the increased enrollment fees until they renew their enrollment in January 2012. These fee increases are separate from President Obama’s deficit reduction plan and the proposed TRICARE For Life enrollment fee increases.

There may be more price hikes in the future. This proposed price increase may be the first in a series or annual enrollment fee increases for TRICARE Prime members, as there has been discussion to tie the price hikes to the Medicare health care index, which will cause TRICARE Prime membership enrollment to rise as the Medicare health index rises.

Raising TRICARE Fees is a complicated issue

There are pros and cons to raising enrollment fees and prescription medicine co-pays. I see 3 distinct sides of the argument, and I have broken them down as best I can in an objective manner:

  • Raising enrollment fees hurts retirees.
  • Even with the price increases, TRICARE is an excellent deal.
  • TRICARE is unsustainable in its current state.

Let’s take a look at these three points of view in more detail, and as always, we would love to hear your opinion.

Rising TRICARE Enrollment Costs Hurts Retirees

The trouble with raising the prices of retiree health care is that most retirees are on a fixed income, and if there is a freeze on Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA), or a series of small increases in COLA, then even small increases in retiree expenses could have a dramatic affect on a retiree’s standard of living. Perhaps $5 per month won’t have a big affect on most retirees’ quality of life, but when you add that to the inflation we are seeing in other areas and fewer COLA increases, then it may have a detrimental effect.

Even with Price Hikes, TRICARE is a Great Deal

I don’t want to defend the price hikes, but I understand the need for the DoD and government to do something. The cost of health care is rising faster than most people can keep up with, and it is one of the biggest concerns in our nation – not just for military retirees, but for everyone. The new proposed family care plan under TRICARE Prime would cost $520 per year, which is less than many civilian families pay each month for family health care through an employer’s group health insurance plan. It’s a great deal, but unfortunately, the rising cost of health care means something must be done.

TRICARE is Unsustainable in its Current State.

I know many military retirees and their family members will be disappointed to hear about the price increases, but many retirees probably already realize that the rising cost of health care has placed the government in a tough position. The simple fact of the matter is this: TRICARE is unsustainable in its current state, and the DoD will have to spend an increasingly large part of its budget paying for retiree pensions and health care, while sacrificing money that could be spent on weapon systems, training, and troop retention.

The key will be for the DoD to address these TRICARE enrollment fee increases in a way that will won’t dramatically affect military retirees’ budgets. Ideally, the DoD would be able to work with the federal government to find another way to fund TRICARE without resorting to price hikes.

Do You Disagree with the Proposed Price Increases?

At the time of this writing, the TRICARE Prime price increases have been approved and are in effect. however, the proposed TRICARE For Life enrollment fees and prescription medicine co-pays are just proposals, and need to be voted into law before they go into effect. If you feel strongly that these price hikes shouldn’t be passed, then you should contact your Con­gressional representative or favorite military organization and let them know where you stand on this issue.

Roy Blunt 12/13/2011

posted Dec 14, 2011, 7:12 AM by Neslo Ventures   [ updated Dec 14, 2011, 7:24 AM ]

From: Senator Roy Blunt [mailto:donotreply@blunt.senate.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 9:07 AM
To: Info@nesloventures.net
Subject: Reply from Senator Roy Blunt

Dear Neslo Ventures,

Thank you for contacting me about S. 1689, the Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act of 2011.

I am grateful for the sacrifices our veterans have made to protect the American people, our nation, and our way of life. The federal government must meet the needs of our military veterans and keep the promises made to the brave men and women who ably served our nation in uniform. In 2003, as a member of the House of Representatives, I led the fight to allow concurrent receipt for the first time, meaning disabled veterans can now receive both military retirement benefits and VA disability compensation at the same time. This remains one of my proudest accomplishments in Congress.

The safety and well-being of our brave men and women in uniform are important to all of us. Your advocacy for this cause makes a difference, and I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind should S. 1689 or other legislation affecting veterans come to the Senate floor for a vote.

Again, thank you for contacting me. I look forward to continuing our conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SenatorBlunt) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/RoyBlunt) about the important issues facing Missouri and the country. I also encourage you to visit my website (blunt.senate.gov) to learn more about where I stand on the issues and sign-up for my e-newsletter.

Sincere regards,

Roy Blunt
United States Senator

Michelle Obama 11/11/2011

posted Nov 12, 2011, 7:43 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Nov 12, 2011, 7:43 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

The White House, Washington



Good afternoon, 

For 92 years, our nation has set aside November 11th as a day to honor those who have served in our armed forces. Originally, the day was set aside to celebrate the veterans of the First World War. Later, it was broadened to include every man and woman who has worn the uniform of the United States. And today, we continue that tradition by honoring the service and sacrifice of our troops and veterans.

But I believe that this commemoration should last much longer than just 24 hours, once a year. That's why Jill Biden and I launched the Joining Forces initiative to honor, recognize, and support the veterans and military families who have given our nation so much.  We're issuing a call to all Americans, so that everyone asks themselves one simple question: How can I give back? 

We've been overwhelmed by responses from across the country. Businesses are hiring more veterans. Nonprofit organizations are working with military children. And individuals all across the country have stepped up to help out in their community. How will you give back?

Sign up for an opportunity to volunteer in your community, pledge service hours in honor of military families, or send a message of thanks to America's heroes.

Find service opportunities, pledge hours of service, send your message of thanks, get involved

Our efforts with Joining Forces come on top of the many actions my husband has made on behalf of our veterans and military families.

He's worked to send 600,000 veterans back to school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill and taken steps to help veterans translate military experience to the private sector job market. He repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- so that our troops don't have to live a lie in order to serve the country they love. He ended the war in Iraq -- our service men and women there will be home for the holidays. And just yesterday, the Senate passed two tax credits that he proposed to encourage businesses to hire America's veterans and wounded warriors.

So inside and outside of government, we're building a wave of support to honor and recognize our veterans and their families. We can use your help. Today, let's all find a new way that we can get involved in our communities, not just for Veterans Day, but every day. 

Visit JoiningForces.gov and sign up today.
 
Thank you, 

Michelle Obama 


Please do not reply to this email. Contact the White House

The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111

Blaine Luetkemeyer 11/08/2011

posted Nov 11, 2011, 4:40 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Nov 11, 2011, 4:40 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

See the attached regarding
Proposed changes to military benefits
(namely loss of Tricare Prime and increased fees)

Blaine Luetkemeyer 11/07/2011

posted Nov 9, 2011, 7:48 PM by Info @NesloVentures   [ updated Nov 9, 2011, 7:49 PM by Neslo Ventures ]

From: Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer [mailto:mo09blima@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2011 8:40 PM
To: info@nesloventures.net
Subject: Thank you for your inquiry.



Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate your views and welcome the opportunity to respond. Please note this is an automated response, so please do not reply to this email.

Each day, I receive hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls. Due to the large volume of correspondence, my response time may vary. I appreciate your patience with me and my staff. If this inquiry is in regards to casework - such as passports, federal benefits, grants, military academy nominations or other individual issues involving federal agencies - please contact my Columbia office for assistance.


I appreciate the opportunity afforded me to serve you and the great people of Missouri's Ninth Congressional District and am honored to be your voice in Washington, D.C. For further updates, I encourage you to sign up for my weekly newsletter on my Web site at
http://luetkemeyer.house.gov and visit my Facebook page and YouTube site.

Sincerely,


Blaine Luetkemeyer
Member of Congress


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