On December 24, 2016, President Obama signed the FY 2017 Defense Authorization bill (S. 2943) into law. The final bill adds a new requirement for retired members and families (except TRICARE For Life beneficiaries) to register in either TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select (formerly Standard), starting in 2018. This will require TRICARE beneficiaries to sign a document in order to keep their current TRICARE benefits. The bill makes far-reaching changes to TRICARE and other provisions impacting members that include:
• No new TRICARE fee or pharmacy co-pay increase for current retirees and those who join the service before January 1, 2018. Future retirees will have TRICARE fee increases;
• Removing proposed drastic cuts to Basic Allowance of Housing (BAH) for active duty;
• Authorizing a larger than requested annual pay increase (2.1% vice 1.6%) for active duty;
• Extending Special Survivors Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) for widows/widowers until May 31, 2018;
• Eliminating proposed end strength cuts for FY 2017;
• Prohibits Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) for FY 2017; and
• Reforming the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) by basing the award to former spouses, based upon the grade and years of service of the member at the time of divorce (not retirement). For more information, contact Sandra at the Veterans Service Office at 602 Strong Ave on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm, or call 365-3612.