The NDAA authorizes the activities of DoD for the next fiscal year. The Defense Appropriations bill provides the money for DoD’s activities in the new fiscal year, and the MilCon/VA bill provides funding for military construction and for the programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs which have not already been funded by the two-year appropriation that .
As we have reported in the past, both the House and Senate have passed their versions of the NDAA. The next step is to form a conference committee made up of members of the House and Senate, who will work out the differences in the two bills and come up with a single bill that will then be sent back to each body for a final vote. Once they both pass the bill it will be sent to the President for his signature.
Both bills would give active duty personnel a 2.6% raise in FY2019 and both would increase the number of active duty personnel each of the services is authorized, although there are differences in the numbers which will have to be reconciled.
The biggest difference between the two bills as far as personnel issues go is a provision in the Senate NDAA which would raise health care costs for retirees under the age of 65.
Last year’s NDAA allowed those who entered the military service before January 1, 2018, to keep the TRICARE fees which were in existence at that time. However, anyone who entered after that date were subject to a new TRICARE fee structure which increased their health care costs. The Senate bill would eliminate the “grandfathering” of those in the service prior to January 1 and throw them into the new TRICARE fee structure, thus also raising their health care costs.
It is important to note at this point that retirees over the age of 65 will not be affected by this change.
However, those under age 65 will see significant increases in enrollment fees for both TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select. Those in TRICARE Select will also see their annual deductible double.
TREA is strongly opposed to the Senate provision.
The House has voted to start the conference committee and it has named the members it will send to the committee. The Senate has not yet voted to start the conference committee and therefore has not named its committee members. However, leaders in both the House and the Senate have said their goal is to come up with a compromise bill by the end of July.