RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

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TRICARE Provider List Philippines

Posted by Service Officer on 25th January 2012

17 JAN 2012

TRICARE Provider List Philippines: The current TMA and ISOS provided Certified Provider list available at http://www.tricare.mil/tma/pacific/pacificCertifiedProviders.aspx does not offer any mechanism to easily identify added or removed providers nor is there any way to determine when existing previously certified provider’s addresses or cities have changed. This is of concern to beneficiaries who have submitted or will be submitting claims because:

• Providers that have changes made to their addresses or city are of some importance as the changes may trigger disapprovals of previously approved claims for a provider when the receipts may no longer match the new addresses.

• Beneficiaries should be able to easily identify providers that have been decertified without having to check every provider on the list in their provider base every two weeks.

• Beneficiaries should be able to easily find added providers for those that have claims pending certification of a provider.

• There should be a convenient way for beneficiaries to determine new additions to the provider base in their area without having to review each and every provider in the entire list every two weeks.

Because of these concerns and to assist TRICARE beneficiaries residing in the Philippines the U.S. Military Retirees of the Philippines have produced a supplemental list to the 17 January 2012 Certified Provider List. The supplement is in 5 sections:

• Introduction

• Providers Added Since 1 January 2011

• Providers Removed Since 1 January 2011

• Providers with Changed Addresses Since 1 January 2011

• Providers with Changed Cities Since 1 January 2011

This listing will be updated with each TMA/ISOS update of the certified provider list and the updates can be accessed at http://db.tt/3fROsC4T or viewed by opening the attachment to this message. When the names or addresses of your providers do not match the “official” list, WPS must send ISOS a request to conduct a “new provider” certification, which has and will slow the reimbursement of the claim. It is recommended that beneficiaries verify the name, (spelling), and how it is listed on the certified provider list. Some examples of variance of the official receipts verses the certified provider list that have caused delays in the past are;

• Santos,John R., MD instead of Santos, John R., MD, (the missing space after the comma has caused the claims processor to request a new certification);

• Santos, John Reyes, MD instead of Santos, John R., MD, which will also cause the claims processor to request a new certification.

The same problem will occur with addresses that are not identical on the “official receipt” as to that of the official certified provider list. Beneficiaries are encouraged to check the newest certified provider list for any provider that they have or are going to use and ensure that the official receipt name and address is identical to the certified provider list. If they find that it is not identical they should request the provider to give them a receipt that is identical. If that is not possible, then it is suggested they annotate the variances on the copy of the receipt sent with the claim and explain that this is the same provider as listed on the certified provider list. [Source: U.S. Military Retirees of the Philippines notice 23 Jan 2012 ++]

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Tricare Stars and Stripes Article

Posted by Service Officer on 31st October 2011

Gentlemen,

Good morning! My apologies for the mass email. I’m a Japan-based reporter for Stars and Stripes (www.stripes.com), the international newspaper that has been covering the U.S. military since World War II. I got your emails from the RAO at Clark and I’m hoping you can help us.

We are preparing to publish a story on the upcoming Tricare pilot program, which will create a closed network of health care providers in the Philippines as a way to cut down on fraud. I’ve been speaking with veterans there who have told me there are deep problems with the current system and its ability to reimburse veterans in a fair and timely way. Namely, the up-front payments and the certified provider list are making it difficult for veterans to get the benefits they earned.

I’m looking to speak with more veterans who have personal stories about problems with Tricare, especially those who may not be seeking needed health care because they worry they won’t get reimbursed. I have heard of at least one veteran who may have died partly because he did not want to spend his savings and not get reimbursed. If this is happening to others, we want to know about it.

Please let me know if you can help. Just send me an email if you are interested and we can arrange a time to talk.

Feel free to pass this email along to other veterans. Thanks in advance for your help!

-Travis

Travis J. Tritten
Reporter
Stars and Stripes
Okinawa, Japan
Military DSN: 645-3358
Cell: 080-6748-9904
Office: 098-970-3358
From outside Japan: (81) 80-6748-9904

Global military news around the clock at stripes.com

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CONTACT INFO FOR VETS UPDATE August 29, 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 29th August 2008

The following subject listing identifies respective office and/or website/telephone data for conducting veteran related business:

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EXPAT TAX FILING DEADLINES 8 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 8th June 2008

For American expatriates, the tax filing deadline this year is 16 June. This means that the tax return must be at the IRS Service Centre in Austin, Texas by the due date. Postmarks do not count. For this reason, electronic filing is the better option over snail mailing. The due date can be extended by filing Form 4868 – Application for Automatic Extension Of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. This form extends the due date to 15 OCT 08. However you will owe interest on any unpaid taxes that were due 14 APR for the 2007 calendar year. IRS may also assess a late payment penalty of 1/2 of 1% of any tax not paid by the regular due date up to 25%. A late filing penalty of 5% per month up to 25% can also be assessed if the return is filed late. Form 4868 can either be filed electronically or by post. Expatriates making a payment with the Form should send to the IRS Service Centre at: PO Box 660575, Dallas TX 75266-0575. Those not making a payment can send to: Austin, TX 73301-0215. [Source: The Tax Barron Jun/Jul 08 ++]

IRS STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: Often American expatriates do not file a US tax return under several mistaken assumptions. The three main ones are:

• They file and pay taxes to a foreign country of residence.

• They earn less than the foreign earned income exclusion.

• After many years of not filing to remain under the radar.

Actually US tax laws require US citizens and resident aliens to report their worldwide income annually unless their income is below the combination of a Standard Deduction and Exemption amounts. In 2007 a Single filer’s Standard Deduction was $5,350 and Exemption $3,400. So unless as a Single filer you were below this $8,750 ($5,350 + $3,400) threshold, filing an income tax return in a foreign country does not excuse you from filing stateside. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE), worth $85,700 in 2007, is intended to help US filers from being taxed twice on their foreign income. But FEIE cannot be applied against investment and other forms of income. Nor can it be taken if IRS challenges a nonfiler to report prior year foreign earnings and decides against allowing FEIE. So even if those foreign earnings are excluded from US taxation, they are still reportable. Staying under the radar is risky, especially as IRS is steadily increasing its reach via international tax treaties and auditors. The worst scenario is to be discovered and face possible criminal sanctions for tax avoidance.

Under IRS Statute of Limitations, taxpayers have three years to claim a tax refund. IRS has three years to audit a tax return or assess additional taxes. And ten years to collect outstanding tax liabilities. Anyone who has not filed a US tax return for some years from overseas should take the offensive approach by filing rather than being put on the defensive by an aggressive and suspicious IRS auditor. The Service asks that three years returns be filed. [Source: The Tax Barron Jun/Jul 08 ++]

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VET HUNTING PERMITS – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

 

• Vermont Gov. James Douglas signed into law a special moose permit lottery for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This year, five of Vermont’s 1,260 moose-hunting permits will be set aside for returning veterans and they will be allowed to apply for the regular, statewide lottery, as well as the special one for them. If you’re a Veteran and possess, or are eligible to receive, a campaign ribbon for Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom, and a Vermont resident, check box 4 on the 2008 Vermont Moose Permit Application to be included in a special priority drawing. For more information refer to www.vtfishandwildlife.com/hunttrap_lottery.cfm.

• A recent decision by the Missouri Conservation Commission extended small-game hunting and fishing permit exemptions to all nonresident military veterans who have service-related disabilities of 60% or more or who were prisoners of war during military service the same hunting and fishing permit exemptions as resident disabled veterans and allowing such nonresident veterans to purchase resident permits. The change is not an exemption from all permit requirements. They still must purchase Missouri deer and turkey hunting, migratory bird hunting and trapping permits if they want to engage in those activities. Exempt veterans must carry a certified statement of eligibility from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when purchasing permits or exercising permit privileges. For more information, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180 or refer to http://mdc.mo.gov.

[Source: NAUS Weekly Update 18 Apr 08 ++]

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VA HOMELESS VETS UPDATE – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi have announced $75 million to provide permanent supportive housing for an estimated 10,000 homeless veterans nationwide. Bernardi and Peake made the announcement with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at a newly renovated housing program for homeless veterans in Queens NY, and emphasized the Federal and local government’s partnership to house and support America’s homeless veteran population. HUD’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) will provide local public housing agencies with rental assistance vouchers specifically targeted to assist homeless veterans in their area. In addition, the VA and HUD will link local public housing agencies with VA Medical Centers to provide supportive services and case management to eligible homeless veterans. HUD will allocate the housing vouchers to local public housing agencies (PHAs) across the country that are specifically targeted to homeless veterans based on a variety of factors, including the number of reported homeless veterans and the proximity of a local VA Medical Center with the capacity to provide case management. New York City and the greater Los Angeles area received the greatest number of vouchers using this criterion.

HUD will provide housing assistance through its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program which allows participants to rent privately owned housing. The VA will offer eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S and Puerto Rico. Last year, the VA provided health care to more than 100,000 homeless veterans and other services to over 60,000 veterans in its specialized homeless programs. The Bush Administration’s proposed FY 2009 Budget seeks to double the amount of funding announced to provide an additional $75 million to support the housing and service needs of an additional 10,000 homeless veterans across America. Local communities or “Continuums of Care” that receive HUD homeless assistance will work with local VA Medical Centers to identify eligible participants. The VA will then screen homeless veterans to determine their eligibility. Those eligible vets will receive treatment and regular case management to retain the voucher. VA Medical Center case managers will also work closely with local housing agencies to help participants find suitable housing. Participating PHAs will also determine income eligibility in accordance to HUD regulations for the HCV program. [Source: TREA Washington Update 18 Apr 08 ++]

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SBP PAID UP PROVISION UPDATE – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is reviewing all military retiree accounts affected by Section 1452(j) of Title 10 U.S. Code, commonly referred to as “Paid-up SBP.” Under the law, reductions in retired pay for the Survivor Benefit Plan will be terminated effective 1 OCT 08 for eligible retirees. The law applies to retired members who are 70 years old and have paid SBP or Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan premiums for at least 360 months, or 30 years. Retirees who are at least 70 years old and have paid at least 360 months of premiums on 1 OCT will have their monthly premiums terminated. The change will be reflected in the NOV 08 pay statement. If a retiree does not meet the eligibility criteria on 1 OCT, the premiums will stop when the retiree has met both criteria: reached age 70 and paid SBP premiums for 360 months. Eligible retirees will be notified by the DFAS via mail regarding the status of their account and premium payment count. [Source: DFAS Release No. 04-07-08 dtd 18 Apr 08 ++]

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VA HOME LOAN UPDATE – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

The Senate passed a large housing package aimed at increasing housing opportunities for veterans and offering mortgage relief for returning servicemembers. It also increased VA Home Loan limits to the levels offered in the Economic Stimulus package for other federal home loans. The bill now moves to the House for action. The Dodd-Shelby Housing bill includes:

• An increase in the length of time a lender must wait before starting foreclosure involving a returning servicemember, from three to nine months.

• One year of relief from increases in mortgage interest rates for returning servicemembers.

• The establishment of a counseling program carried out by DOD to assist servicemembers and veterans with financial issues.

• Eligibility for VA-provided home improvement and structural alteration payments to totally disabled members of the Armed Forces before their discharge or release from the Armed Forces.

• Extension of specially adapted housing benefits to certain veterans and servicemembers with severe burns

[Source: VFW Washington weekly 18 Apr 08 ++]

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VA LAWSUIT (LACK OF CARE) UPDATE 2 – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

Department personnel aren’t asking enough questions to determine whether veterans are suicidal, aren’t sharing information about suicide risks with the VA’s network of hospitals and clinics and aren’t implementing their own plans to improve the system, Ronald Maris, a University of South Carolina sociology professor, told U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti in San Francisco on the second day of the trial. A majority of the VA’s counselors, doctors, social workers and psychologists "don’t have the tools and the information that they need to intervene effectively with suicidal vets," said Maris, a former president of the American Association of Suicidology who has been a consultant to the Army on suicide prevention. He was particularly critical of the VA’s top health care administrator, William Feeley, who said in a pretrial deposition 9 APR that the agency has no systematic national plan for suicide prevention. Feeley also said he was unaware of any methods of tracking veterans at risk of suicide and that suicide rates "are not a metric we are measuring." "I would say he was singularly uninformed about suicide," Maris said. During cross-examination of Maris, Justice Department lawyer James Schwartz suggested that Feeley’s comment about suicide rates referred to factors he considered in evaluating VA division chiefs, not his own ignorance about the subject. But Maris said the statement contained no such indication.

The emotional nature of the case was underscored when an unidentified woman rose during Maris’ testimony and denounced "warmongers … eating our children for profit." The woman spoke for several minutes before being led off by a federal marshal. She was not arrested, the marshal’s office said.

During opening statements 21 APR, a lawyer for the veterans’ groups displayed an e-mail that a top VA mental health official, Ira Katz, sent in December in which he said veterans were committing suicide at the rate of 18 a day. In an interview Maris said Tuesday the suicide rate among veterans has been increasing since 2001, according to government reports he has studied. In court, Maris said a more recent study by top VA mental health official, Ira Katz showed a suicide rate among veterans that was 3.2 times as high as the rate among the general population. A May 2007 report by the VA’s inspector general found a suicide rate 7.5 times as high as the public rate for veterans who were in the department’s health care system, Maris said.

Among the reasons for the disparity, Maris said, is that veterans are mostly men, who generally have higher suicide rates than women; they suffer from depression more often, have higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse than the general population, are separated from their families for long periods and often have access to guns. Maris also faulted the VA’s standard procedure for screening returning soldiers for suicidal tendencies. He said they are asked whether they thought of harming themselves during the previous two weeks or decided life was not worth living. If they deny having any such thoughts, he said, they are classified as nonsuicidal and the questioning ends. That’s far short of the generally accepted standard of care, Maris testified. He said soldiers are often reluctant to admit psychiatric problems and should be asked numerous follow-up questions about such topics as alcohol use, medications, gun ownership, any past suicide attempts and any history of suicide in their family. [Source: San Francisco Chronicle BoB Egelko article 22 Apr 08 ++]

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VA LAWSUIT (LACK OF CARE) UPDATE 1 – May 1 2008

Posted by Service Officer on 30th April 2008

THE lawsuit, filed in JUL 07 by two nonprofit groups representing military veterans, accuses the agency of inadequately addressing a “rising tide” of mental health problems, especially post-traumatic stress disorder. It contends the Department of Veterans Affairs isn’t doing enough to prevent suicide and provide adequate medical care for Americans who have served in the armed forces, a class-action lawsuit that goes to trial this week charges. But government lawyers say the VA has been devoting more resources to mental health and making suicide prevention a top priority. They also argue that the courts don’t have the authority to tell the department how it should operate. The trial began 21 APR in a San Francisco federal court. An average of 18 military veterans kill themselves each day, and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide, according to a December e-mail between top VA officials that was filed as part of the federal lawsuit. The veterans groups wrote in court papers filed 17 APR that failure to provide care is manifesting itself in an epidemic of suicides. The "trial…does not seek monetary damages but asks the court to appoint a special master or otherwise intervene to make" the VA run more efficiently.

After government lawyers and attorneys representing the veterans made opening statements the executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, testified that U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have sufficient access to lawyers to help them process health and medical claims when they encounter treatment delays or mistakes a witness for the veterans testified. "Even if we get 1,000 cases placed, there are hundreds of thousands of claims," Abrams said. Veterans suffering disorders cannot get enough legal aid even though hundreds of lawyers from dozens of law firms have volunteered to help them free of charge, Abrams said. Staff shortages, inadequate care, long waits for therapy, and an adversarial appeals process when care is denied have led to an "epidemic of suicides," lawyers for Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth Inc. have argued. Coincidently the next day U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, called for the resignation of Dr. Ira Katz, Mental Health Officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs, following reports that Dr. Katz was involved in efforts to cover up the number of veterans attempting suicide.

A study released this week by the RAND Corp. estimates that 300,000 U.S. troops (about 20% of those deployed ) are suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We find that the VA has simply not devoted enough resources,” said Gordon Erspamer, the lawyer representing the veterans groups. “They don’t have enough psychiatrists.” The lawsuit also alleges that the VA takes too long to pay disability claims and that its internal appellate process unconstitutionally denies veterans their right to take their complaints to court. According to Erspamer the VA can take up to 12 to 15 years before it recognizes and compensates a veteran for stress disorder and that when veterans appeal their claims, the courts reverse or send the cases back to VA offices for correction 91% of the time.The department acknowledges in court papers that it takes on average about 180 days to decide whether to approve a disability claim. The groups are asking U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti, a World War II Army veteran, to order the VA to drastically overhaul its system. Conti is hearing the trial without a jury. But government lawyers have filed court papers arguing that the courts have no authority to tell the VA how to operate and no business wading into the everyday management of a sprawling medical network that includes 153 medical centers nationwide. The veterans are asking the judge “to administer the programs of the second largest Cabinet-level agency, a task for which Congress and the executive branch are better suited,” government lawyers wrote in court papers.

If the judge ordered an overhaul, he would be responsible for such things as employees workloads, hours of operations, facility locations, the number of medical professionals employed, and “even the decision whether to offer individual or group therapy to patients with PTSD. The VA also said it is besieged with an unprecedented number of claims, which have grown from 675,000 in 2001 to 838,000 in 2007. The rise is prompted not from the current war, but from veterans growing older. Government lawyers in their filings defended VA’s average claims processing time as reasonable, given that it has to prove the veterans disability was incurred during service time. They also noted the VA will spend $3.8 billion for fiscal year 2008 on mental health and announced a policy in June that requires all medical centers to have mental health staff available all the time to provide urgent care. They said that “suicide prevention is a singular priority for the VA. They have hired over 3,700 new mental health professionals in the last two and a half years, bringing the total number of mental health professionals within VA to just under 17,000. This hiring effort continues. [Source: Air Force Times AP Paul Elias article posted : 21 Apr 08 ++]

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