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United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

Archive for the 'Military Health Care' Category

VA RETRO PAY PROJECT UPDATE 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

The Pentagon’s accounting unit agreed 16 JUL to double-check requests by more than 25,000 veterans who were turned down for back benefits, concurring with U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich that “a veteran deserves better.” Kucinich, head of a domestic policy subcommittee House panel that found flaws in the military benefits system, also got the Pentagon’s acting inspector general to order an audit.

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CONTACT INFO for VETS 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

Anyone in the military community who feels the need to talk to someone regarding their situation can call or contact:

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VA INDEPENDENT LIVING PROGRAM UPDATE 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

A House subcommittee was told 17 July that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Independent Living Program is failing to adequately address the needs of severely disabled veterans.

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MEDICARE PRESCRIPTIONS 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

U.S. health officials said 21 JUL that starting in 2009 doctors can earn additional money from Medicare if they use electronic prescribing systems. The bonus program, which will continue for four years, is designed to streamline the prescription process and cut down on errors. In 2009 and 2010, Medicare will give doctors an additional 2% bonus on top of their fee for “e-prescribing.”

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WALKING IMPACT on DISABILITY RISK 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

According to a new University of Georgia study older adults can decrease their risk of disability and increase their likelihood of maintaining independence by 41% by participating in a walking exercise program. The study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, also found that walking program participants increased their peak aerobic capacity by 19% when compared to a control group and increased their physical function by 25%. Study co-author M. Elaine Cress, professor of kinesiology and researcher in the UGA Institute of Gerontolog, said, “In the past decade, researchers have focused on the benefits of strength training in maintaining independence, but until now we didn’t have good evidence using an objective performance measure that a walking program would improve physical functioning. Our study found that walking offers tremendous health benefits that can help older adults stay independent.” The researchers randomly assigned 26 low-income adults aged 60 and older to either a walking exercise group, which met three times a week for four months, or a nutrition education control group. Initially, the group would walk for 10 minutes continually. As the weeks progressed, they increased their walking time to 40 continuous minutes. Each session began with a 10-minute warm-up and ended with a 10-minute cool-down that included balance and flexibility exercises.

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TRICARE USER FEE UPDATE 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

For the third consecutive year, the Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal 2009 calls for big hikes in enrollment fees, deductibles and pharmacy co-pays in its Tricare health insurance program .It’s not hard to see why. Military health care costs have ballooned from $19 billion in 2001 to $43 billion this year, almost 10% of the entire defense budget. At this rate, health care will hit $65 billion by 2015. Clearly, something must be done. But so far, the Pentagon and Congress have been talking past each other. Defense officials say they need fee hikes to raise revenue and to discourage people who have other health care options from using Tricare in the first place. “Health care costs are eating us alive” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told House lawmakers 6 FEB. “We really need to work with the Congress.” To date, however, Congress hasn’t said much more than no to fee hikes. That’s like ignoring your credit card bill and hoping your bank won’t notice. Congress has sat by for more than a decade, ever cognizant of soaring health care costs, but not once raising Tricare fees, which haven’t changed since the program’s inception in 1995. Not even to adjust for inflation.

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PROSTATE PROBLEMS UPDATE 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

This year, according to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 186,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 28,000 will die from the disease. According to phase-I clinical results published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on 22 JUL, a new drug, abiraterone, dramatically shrunk the size of tumors and offered lasting benefits for prostate patients, compared with existing treatments. Researchers found that this experimental drug showed significant benefits for men who had exhausted all other treatments. Though it is in early development, many cancer doctors are optimistic about abiraterone. Cougar Biotechnology Inc., who sponsored the trial, says the drug could be approved for sale in the U.S. as early as 2011, if all goes well. Initial findings suggest more patients with advanced prostate cancer respond to abiraterone than other drugs in development. There is also evidence the tumors shrink more on this drug and that benefits last longer, in some cases, a year and a half. Prostate cancers are fueled by testosterone. This drug lowers the levels of testosterone below what can be achieved with other drugs. The next step is a much larger, international clinical trial, which is currently enrolling patients. The goal is to determine whether the many benefits of this drug translate into prolonged survival for patients, the way it has for current trial users. [Source: ABC Medical News John McKenzie article 23 Jul 08 ++]

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AGENT ORANGE EQUITY 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

On 23 JUL House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) held a press conference to announce the introduction of H.R. 6562, the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2008. The bill restores equity to all Vietnam veterans that were exposed to Agent Orange. It would clarify the laws related to VA benefits provided to Vietnam War veterans suffering from the ravages of Agent Orange exposure. From 1991 to 2002, the VA granted hundreds, if not thousands of disability claims filed by Navy blue water veterans suffering from one of the many diseases that VA recognizes as related to Agent Orange exposure. These benefits were awarded based on VA rules providing that service in the waters offshore Vietnam qualified the veteran for the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange. In FEB 02 VA did an about face and required veterans to have ‘actually served on land within the Republic of Vietnam … to qualify for the presumption of exposure to’ Agent Orange. As a result, all pending and new disability claims filed by Navy blue water veterans for an Agent Orange-related disease were denied unless there was proof that that the veteran actually set foot on Vietnamese soil. In addition, the VA began to sever benefits that had been granted to Navy blue water veterans prior to the 2002 change in VA rules.

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TRAUMATIC INJURY INSURANCE 1 August 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 31st July 2008

Traumatic injury insurance is part of the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance program. A monthly premium of $1 is charged on top of the normal SGLI premium for coverage aimed at helping troops and their families with the financial difficulties of severe injuries. More than 1,600 severely disabled veterans could receive retroactive traumatic injury insurance payments as a result of a newly released review of how benefits have been paid under the 3½-year-old supplemental benefits program. The payments, which range from $25,000 to $100,000, could be paid as early as this fall as a result of discussions between the Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs the program, and doctors who are treating severely wounded combat veterans. The average retroactive payment would be $32,000, according to the JUL dated review. About 4,400 people have received traumatic injury insurance payments since the program was created in 2005. The estimated 1,640 people who would receive retroactive benefits as a result of the review include some who did not previously qualify and some who received payments but now would get more, according to VA officials. Officials said the report offers 11 recommendations to expand definitions of traumatic injury for insurance purposes, and all are expected to be included in a revised regulation likely to be issued by VA this fall. No payments can be made until final regulations are issued, but the new definitions would apply to new injuries and also retroactively to injuries since 7 OCT 01.

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GULF WAR VET FATIGUE STUDY 3 July 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 3rd July 2008

Principal Investigator Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, Ph.D is seeking veterans who served in the Persian Gulf Theater of Operations during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm between AUG 90 and JUL 91 with Gulf War Illness to participate in a 12-month research study. Gulf War Illness includes symptoms that started during or after Gulf War participation and are present for at least six months. Symptoms may include fatigue, muscle or joint pain, sleep problems, memory problems and/or others. The research is to see if CoEnzyme Q10 can improve symptoms and benefits quality of life for affected veterans. Participants will receive CoEnzyme Q10, a nutritional supplement, and a placebo, an inactive pill, during alternate periods of their participation in the study. Monetary compensation, lab work, diet profiles, and study drugs, will be provided. Those desiring to participate should contact Study Coordinator Janis Ritchie, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0995 Tel: (858) 558-4950 ext 203 or email jbritchie@ucsd.edu. [Source: "CA VFW VSO Scott Langhoff email 16 Jun 0 ++]

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