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Bill expresses health benefit commitment to military retirees

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By Congressman Virgil Goode

The health care of America’s veterans is one of the important issues we must address.

HR 579, of which I am a co-sponsor, lays out a path to achieve that goal. The bill is known as the Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act. It expresses the sense of Congress on two fronts: (1) the Department of Defense (DOD) and the nation have a committed health benefits obligation to retired military personnel that exceeds the obligation of corporate employers to civilian employees; and (2) DOD has many additional options to constrain the growth of health care spending in ways that do not disadvantage beneficiaries, and should pursue such options rather than seeking large fee increases for beneficiaries.

To achieve those objectives, the bill prohibits an increase: (1) in a premium, deductible, co-payment, or other charge prescribed by the Secretary of Defense for medical and dental health care coverage for military personnel; and (2) in the dollar amount of a cost sharing requirement under the DOD pharmacy benefits program.

Further, the bill prohibits: (1) charges for DOD inpatient care from exceeding $535 per day; and (2) an increase in premiums under TRICARE (a DOD managed health care program) for certain members of the Selected Reserve.

This bill was one of the key points that I focused on last weekend in speaking to the quarterly meeting of the Virginia Air Force Association’s meeting in Danville. I hope that the Congress will move this legislation forward, so that we can bring needed additional health care support to our veterans who have given so much to defend our liberties.

On another subject, I am one of the sponsors of a bill known as the New Employment Verification Act, which addresses the issue of workforce enforcement regarding illegal immigrants.

Current law prohibits the hiring of any individual unauthorized to work in the United States. Unfortunately, the law has been enforced by a system riddled with fraud and abuse. This bill reforms worksite enforcement by requiring verification checks for new employees through a new electronic employment verification system.

The legislation draws upon the latest advances in technology in order root out these illegals who are taking American jobs, often sending much of the money that they make back to Mexico. The bill establishes a new voluntary system where private sector background check experts, certified by the government, would verify that a worker is who he or she says they are and safeguard that identity through cutting-edge biometric technology. The nature of this proposal is to guard against both identity theft and any possible invasion of our privacy.

I agree with the bill’s chief patron that the New Employee Verification Act offers a workable and effective way to ensure a legal workforce. This is a sensible measure that will bring us one step closer towards greater security at our borders, and order within our homeland.

Please keep in touch with me on issues that are important to you. You may write Congressman Virgil Goode, 70 East Court Street, Room 215, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; or fax to 1-540-484-1459; or call toll-free to the Danville office, 1-800-535-4008.