President’s Corner
By Paul L. Bernard

In case you haven’t heard, our chapter received a 5-Star award from MOAA National for the second year in a row!  The only chapter in the “large” category to receive two consecutive 5-Star awards.  The 5-Star award is given to chapters that submit an application and meet some very stringent criteria.  This year 21 chapters received the 5-Star award and 36 chapters received a 4-Star award.  COL Bancroft McKittrick, our chapter’s immediate past president, will accept the award at the National Convention in Nashville, TN.  Receipt of the 5-Star award is a testimonial to the hard work, dedication and commitment of the volunteers that run the chapter.  Our Board of Directors and those that chair and work on the various committees are responsible for this award.  Thank you for all that you do! 

Shifting gears, it is likely that you will notice two changes in this newsletter.  First, this edition of the newsletter has been reduced from 8 pages to 4 pages, which lowers the cost of printing and the reduces the time it takes me to produce the newsletter.  The second change is a slight reduction in the print size, from 12 font to 11 font.  This allows me to include more information in a smaller space, which in turns minimizes the effect of reducing the newsletter to 4 pages.  I’d like to receive some feedback on these changes.  If the feedback is favorable, I will continue this format.  If the feedback is not favorable, I will return to the former size and format. 

Next, on the back page of this newsletter is the announcement of students who will receive an interest-free scholarship loan this year.  The chapter is trying to raise $10,000 in donations this year to support this loan program.  I encourage all members to consider donating to this very worthy cause.  The students are our future. 

One last item—this will be my last column as president.    I served the chapter for two years as vice-president, and in November I will complete my second year as president.  It is amazing how quickly this time has passed.  It has been an honor to serve the chapter, and I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with the Board of Directors and the many volunteers that make this chapter a success.  I will continue to serve in the capacity of immediate past president, but this column is my last opportunity to say “thank you” to all members of the chapter.  Thanks! 

 
 
Paul L. Bernard 


Medicare Part B Notices to be Mailed
in Early Fall
Beneficiaries who are entitled to Medicare Part A but are not enrolled in Medicare Part B will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B without a premium surcharge during a special enrollment period that will continue through December 31, 2004. In early fall, these beneficiaries will receive a form in the mail, giving them the option of selecting any month in 2004 as their Medicare Part B entitlement date, or refusing Part B altogether. If you refuse the Medicare Part B, there is no TRICARE eligibility. 
Beneficiaries whose current Medicare Part B entitlement began between January 2001 and December 2004 and who are paying a premium surcharge (more that $66.60 a month) for Medicare Part B, will have their Part B Premium reduced to the 2004 rate of $66.60 beginning January 2004, or later, their Part B entitlement date. In early fall, these beneficiaries will receive a refund for any excess premium surcharges they paid beginning in January 2004. 

Beneficiaries who enrolled in Medicare Part B between January and March of 2004 (the Medicare General Enrollment Period) will have the option to retain their July 2004 entitlement date or change their entitlement date to any other month within 2004. To view the entire fact sheet go to: www.tricare.osd.mil/medicare/default.cfm



SBP
Reprinted from MOAA's LEGISLATIVE UPDATE for Friday, September 3, 2004

MOAA and other members of The Military Coalition (TMC) teamed up this week to visit the offices of every senator on the Armed Services Committee, urging their support for the House plan to end the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) "military widows tax." 

The House version of the FY2005 Defense Authorization Bill (H.R. 4200) would phase out the age-62 SBP benefit reduction over 3 ½ years, while the Senate-passed version would take 10 years. Nearly 90% of the 255,000 SBP survivors are already over age 62, and 10-year plan would offer little help to thousands of "Greatest Generation" widows in their late 70s and 80s.  But as Congress returns next week to begin considering this issue, the real key to success will be a flood of constituent inputs. 

You can make a real difference on this issue simply by signing, stamping, and mailing the tear-out SBP postcards on the cover of your latest MOAA magazine. We've even attached extra post cards with blank return addresses so you can ask your spouse, friend, or relative to sign one. A short hand-written note at the bottom of the card will lend extra-personalized "punch."  Please take the time and invest $1.50 or so in postage to help protect the interests of our military widows. 



 

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