NATIONAL VETERANS LEGISLATION for 2001
Submitted By: Raul Ariaga
It looks like veterans have had a fairly good year for 2001, because many of you contacted your congressional delegates on behalf of veterans. Here's an update of legislation that passed this past year:
Issue 1: Strong gains for Veterans in 2001
House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee leaders capped a strong year of legislative activity on behalf of veterans with passage of H.R.1291, the Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act; H.R.2540, Veterans Compensation Rate Amendments of 2001; H.R. 2716,the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act; and H.R.3423, All Career Military Eligible For Burial At Arlington National Cemetery.
H.R.1291, was introduced to increase Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) education benefits over a three-year period. The final version of the bill also includes other veterans benefits sought by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV). Among many other provisions, the final version of H. R.1291:
-Boost educational benefits under the MGIB over the next three years. The maximum monthly rate increases to $985 on 1 Oct. 2003, a 46% hike over current benefits;
H.R. 2540 authorizes a 2.6% COLA for disabled veterans and their survivors.
H.R. 2716 authorizes funding, housing, and related assistance for homeless veterans.
Issue 2: Long Term Care Insurance Progress
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and John Hancock Life Insurance Company have been selected as the carriers for the government Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance program for military and federal civilian beneficiaries that will start up late next year. Together, the two firms have formed a third corporation called Long Term Care Partners, LLC. The new company's sole responsibility will be operating the federal program. The contract is for seven years. Premium rates and benefits options could be released in late winter (Feb 2002). Coverage will be effective on October 1, 2002, but program sign-ups could begin much sooner, according to the OPM.
In related news, the House and Senate approved the Long-Term Care SecurityAct, HR2559, for Presidential signature, which is expected shortly. The Act