NDAA 2017 - Approved TRICARE Changes

 The 2017 National Defense Authorization Bill passed by both chambers of Congress includes the following changes to TRICARE for active duty and retirees:

 ·         TRICARE enrollment costs and use fees for currently serving troops and existing retirees escaped congressional reform efforts unchanged, according to the final draft of the NDAA. But future retirees who join the military in 2018 or thereafter will pay higher fees for all TRICARE plans.

 ·         TRICARE reforms proposed over the last year had included a parade of fee increases, many of which put the greatest burden on military retirees.  But after months of negotiations, lawmakers produced a toned-down set of reforms that focuses change on the incoming military force instead of those who entered service under current health care plans.

 ·         For those currently in the TRICARE system, including TRICARE Reserve Select and TRICARE for Life users, reform focuses primarily on program title change, back end management and limited expansions. For example, the law eliminates the "TRICARE Standard" and "TRICARE Extra" options, swapping them out with the newly minted "TRICARE Select." But for those who serve before 2018, nothing about the cost structure under the new plan differs from what users pay today under Standard or Extra.

 ·         Under expansions in the legislation, TRICARE Prime users will be able to access civilian-based urgent care without prior authorization, a program that is currently capped at two visits per year. Military treatment facilities also will expand their primary care business hours and implement a standard appointment scheduling system across all services and facilities nationwide while increasing the number of available appointments.

 ·         The legislation allows the Defense Department to sell durable medical equipment, such as hearing aids, to beneficiaries at cost.  Currently, TRICARE does not cover hearing aids for retirees.

 ·         Those new to the military in 2018 will see new cost structures once they hit retirement, including annual enrollment fees of at least $900 per family for the new "TRICARE Select" option and $700 for TRICARE Prime.  Active-duty family users new to the force in 2018 or after will be charged fees for the "Select" plan similar to those charged for active-duty families on Standard today, according to the legislation.

 [Source: NAUS Weekly Update | December 9, 2016 ]

 Saving Money - Stocking Up Limitations

 Stocking up at low prices can be a smart financial move, but only if you can use what you buy before it goes bad. If you have a bathroom full of old cosmetics, a pantry full of cleaning supplies, or a garage filled with paint and oil, it may be time to purge and be a little more mindful about what you buy in the future. While stocking up can seem like a smart move, not everything can be stored indefinitely. Following are some items that might be about to go bad in your stockpile.

 ·         Anti-acne products — Products containing Benzoyl peroxide will only be effective for 3 months, other products can last up to a year however products with retinol, glycolic acid and vitamin C break down quicker.

·         Anti-aging products — 6 months to a year depending on ingredients (products with retinol, glycolic acid and vitamin C break down quicker)

·         Antiperspirant— can last for three years. Check package for expiration date

·         Battery shelf life — ultimate lithium batteries 15 years, advanced lithium batteries 10 years, rechargeables 1% each day.

·         Bleach — 6 months.  If you use bleach in homemade cleaners, be aware it can lose its effectiveness quickly once diluted.  A 10%  bleach solution is potent for only a day.

·          Body bleach cream — six months if opened, two years unopened

·         Body wash/lotion — can last for 3 years

·         Boxed wine — starts degrading one year after packaging

·         Car seats  — six to 10 years depending on manufacturer.  Check label

·         Caulk — two months opened, one year unopened

·         Cleaners with antibacterial ingredients — one year

·         Cleanser — two years

·         Deodorant — three years

·         Depilatory cream —six months if opened, up to two years unopened

·         Dish soap — 12 to 18 months

·         Dishwasher detergent — three months

·         Disinfectants — two years

·         Eye cream — 6 to 12 months (6-9 months for products in a jar) once opened

·         Fabric softener — one year

·         Face cream — 6 to 12 months (6-9 months for products in a jar)

·         Face powder — can last for 2 years

·         Glazing compounds — one year opened, two years unopened

·         Hair styling product — can last for one to five years, products containing alcohol tend to last longer

·         Latex or oil based paint  — unopened  2 years

·         Laundry detergent — six to 12 months

·         Lipstick — two to three years

·         Liquor — unopened indefinitely, opened  will start losing potency. Best to use up in one year

·         Mascara — three months

·         Moisturizer — Can last for 2 years (if in a pump) or one year (if in a jar), if product contains SPF, check for expiration date on package

·         Motor oil — Some oils have additives that can break down over time. In addition, open or unsealed bottles can absorb moisture. The shelf life may vary depending on the manufacturer.

·         Mouthwash — Can last for three years. Bottle should contain an expiration date

·         Multisurface cleaners — two years

·         Nail polish — one to 2 years. If you shake the bottle and the formula won’t mix up, the polish is no good

·         Nail polish remover — does not expire

·         Oil-based stains — one year opened, two to three years unopened

·         Oil-based varnishes — one year, opened or unopened

·         Oil-free foundation — one year

·         Perfume  — can last for up to two years. Store in a cool and dark place

·         Rubbing alcohol —three to five years

·         Shampoo/conditioner — three years unopened

·         Shaving cream — Can last for two years

·         Soap, bar and liquid — Can last for three years

·         Sunscreen — One year (federally regulated)

·         Toothpaste — Can last two years, always check the expiration date, since the product contains fluoride

·         Water-based stains — one year opened, two years unopened

  [Source:  MoneyTalksNews | Maryalene Laponsie | December 8, 2016 ]

 Notes of Interest -  1 thru 15 DEC 2016

·         TRICARE pharmacy networkAs of 1 DEC, CVS and CVS pharmacies in Target stores are no longer part of the TRICARE pharmacy network; but Walgreens now is, so beneficiaries need to transfer all prescription fills or refills from CVS pharmacy to another TRICARE pharmacy to avoid paying the full retail prices. Read more at http://capwiz.com/vfw/utr/1/HLWWYYOATP/JHLZYYOAXY/11357317151

·         PTSD.  The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for clinical trials of the club drug ecstasy as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. In earlier research, the drug showed promise in reducing symptoms of PTSD.

·         USS Zumwalt.  The largest and most expensive destroyer built for the U.S. Navy has resumed its voyage after a breakdown in the Panama Canal.  The Navy said 1 DEC that the dhip departed Panama after repairs to the propulsion system by the ship's crew and a team from General Electric and the Naval Sea Systems Command.  The 610-foot destroyer was in the Panama Canal when it lost propulsion on 21 NOV. 

·         Retiree Firearms.  The Pentagon's new policy for carrying firearms on base is intended for uniformed service members and civilians working for the U.S. military -- not for retirees, Defense Department officials maintain.

·         Federal Workforce.  Veterans make up almost one-third of the federal workforce, up 5 percentage points since President Obama took office, according to new data released by OPM on Veterans Day. That translates into more than 623,000 veterans working in civilian federal posts, 31% of the 2 million individuals working in civilian government jobs. 

·         Grocery Shopping.  Amazon is doing away with checkout lines and cashiers in concept 'Go' grocery stores.  To see how they will do it go to https://youtu.be/NrmMk1Myrxc  First store in Seattle will be open to the public in early 2017.

·         Okinawa. The U.S. and Japan announced 6 DEC that Washington will give back to the Japanese government nearly 10,000 acres of land on Okinawa that U.S. Marines use for jungle warfare training.

·         Nuclear Waste.  The Navy and U.S. Department of Energy have announced that they'll build a $1.65 billion facility at a nuclear site in eastern Idaho that will handle fuel waste from the nation's fleet of nuclear-powered warships.

·         Fidel Castro.  Castro’s ashes were put inside a rock.  The funeral procession was halted when the jeep carrying his ashes broke down and soldiers had to push it.  Kind of a mini analogue of communism right there for all to see.

·         Foundation for American Vets.  A Michigan fundraiser (Associated Community Services Inc) that targeted veterans and seniors will be banned from operating in Minnesota and has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit that accused it of engaging in deception and failing to provide required disclosures about what it does.  ACS was allegedly  sending out false “pledge reminders” and making other deceptive statements to solicit donations for the Foundation for American Veterans, 

·         Obama Vacation Costs.  Judicial Watch announced 10 DEC that it obtained records from the U.S. Secret Service revealing that its travel expenses for the First Family’s 2015 Hawaiian vacation cost taxpayers $1.2 million, which bring the total cost of the vacation trip to at least $4.8 million. This was the Obamas’ eighth Hawaiian family vacation. The trip has become an annual event for the Obamas. To date, Obama’s and his family’s travel expenses total at least $85,029,819.

·         Senate Last Seat filled.  Louisiana voters Saturday chose to send Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy to the U.S. Senate, filling the nation’s last Senate seat and giving the GOP a 52-48 edge in the chamber when the new term begins in January. 

·         RP President.  Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted he personally killed criminal suspects as mayor of Davao.  Speaking to business leaders at the presidential palace on 12 DEC he stated, "In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police] that if I can do it why can't you."

·         Kirk Douglas.  Former movie star Kirk Douglas celebrated his 100th birthday on 9 DEC.

Yours in service,

Chuck Weber