The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013 established a special commission to review military compensation and retirement programs, and to make recommendations for the President and Congress. Jan. 29, the findings of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission were finalized and released. Here are 5 things you need to know about MCRMC report:
1. It calls for sweeping changes to the current retirement system
The commissioners suggest implementing a 401(k)-style investment account for future service members utilizing a combination of direct pay, thrift savings, continuation pay, and retention bonuses. It should be noted, a grandfather clause would shield current retirees and those presently serving from any retirement changes. For the most part, the new system would only apply to future troops, but some currently-serving members may be given an opportunity to opt-in.
2. Recommends overhauling the current military-health care system
Their plan would replace the existing TRICARE system for military family members, retirees and their dependents with a Federal Employees Health Benefits option. Currently serving members would receive a monthly stipend to help cover expenses related to their dependents health care. Health care for active-duty military members, and retirees eligible for TRICARE for Life, would remain unchanged.
3. Addresses service-member family and survivor needs
There is a call to improve support of special-needs family members by aligning services offered through Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) to match Medicare waiver options and improve access to child care on military installations.
4. Could change the dynamic of on-base shopping
The MCRMC proposal calls for a consolidation of the three exchange systems and the commissary into a single entity.
5. They are only recommendations.
Most of the recommendations of the commission require action by law makers in order to be implemented. Currently, there is no legislation pending in Congress that would allow these changes to become law.
By Morgan Brown
Director, AFSA Military & Government Relations
An independent commission created two years ago by lawmakers to come up with recommendations for overhauling military pay and compensation programs will release its final report on Jan.29, setting the stage for what could be the biggest defense policy fight of the year. Established by FY 2013’s NDAA (now Public Law 112-239), the Military Compensation & Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) was originally scheduled to provide their recommendations to Congress and the President by May of 2014. However, recognizing the vast scope of their mission and significant potential impact, the MCRMC was granted an extension until February 2015.
The Commission’s primary goal is to ensure the Uniformed Services can maintain a professional All-Volunteer Force, during both peacetime and wartime. Over the past 18 months, AFSA and its Coalition partners met with Commissioners and their staff to help paint the effects on enlisted members and their families. AFSA members also participated in several town hall meetings conducted by the panel as they went about their work. AFSA is scheduled to receive a briefing from the MCRMC later this week and hear firsthand about some of their conclusions and recommendations. Once their final report is released, we will examine it very closely before determining the Association’s position on any of its contents.
Military pay and healthcare delivery are sure to be scrutinized the most, but keep in mind this is the end of the first step – an evaluation of what is and a set of suggestions for what might be. The next step includes the President, DoD and Congress reviewing the possibilities, choosing which ones are best to start, which current practices are best to stop, calculating related costs, etc.. In theory, any reforms would be seen in the legislative language of future budgets, but don’t be surprised if some sneak into FY 2016 discussions this year.
As a reminder, by law, any proposed changes by the MCRMC will “grandfather” plans of those currently serving or already receiving a retirement annuity; meaning changes only affect those who join the military after a change’s implementation date.
Happy New Year from AFSA! We look forward to continued support to all in our Air Force family as the “Voice of the Enlisted.” We hope that 2015 will be filled with happiness and prosperity for all.
By Dan Yeomans
AFSA International President
We all make New Year’s resolutions. As International President, here are a few AFSA resolutions for 2015 using the AFSA four pillars as we strive to serve you and our Air Force!
· Membership: We anticipate our numbers to continue growing in 2015. As you may be aware, we established a special membership rate of $25 for 5 years that runs all through 2015. This rate applies to both new members, and to those within six months of their membership expiring and renew!
· Legislation: Congress has many new faces as a result of the November 2014 elections. You can count on AFSA to continue to take the lead in advocating for all Airmen on Capitol Hill. We will fight long and hard for fair pay, educational benefits, retirement, healthcare and more. We had your back in 2014! We have it again in 2015!
· Fraternity: We are looking forward to a great PAC in 2015 in San Antonio. Expect some positive changes. We will make time to conduct business, provide great professional development opportunities and have fun! In addition, we look forward to recognizing the best of the best that support AFSA and our Air Force.
· Communications: Change is in the winds! Our new website will continue to improve. Our weekly newsletter will reach more and provide you with valued updates. Our AFSA Magazine will better represent each of you! We will even strive to reinvent our AFSA App and make it better. Members will be able to access videos telling the AFSA story. Communications is the glue that holds every organization together. We are on an exciting journey!
God Bless you, your families, our Air Force, and our great country in 2015!
AFSA International President