Current Issues before Congress and the Executive Branch

By National Executive Director Ken Greenberg

I bring you greetings from JWV headquarters. I am pleased to share information on current issues before Congress and the Executive Branch. Please write to me at with feedback or concerns. I hope all JWV members and their families have a joyous holiday season.

Election Results Bring Changes to 118th Congress in January 2023
All indications are that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) will continue with Senator Jon Tester of Montana as the Chairman and Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas as Ranking Member. In the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Chairman Jack Reed of Rhode Island will retain his position and Roger Wicker of Mississippi is expected to become the Ranking Member. The previous ranking member, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, has retired.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois is expected to become the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) and Rep. Mark Takano of California is expected to become the Ranking Member. For the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama is expected to be named Chairman and Rep. Adam Smith of Washington is expected to be named Ranking Member. Both HVAC and HASC leadership will be swapping their positions from the current Congress.
JWV has an excellent working relationship with all four committees as well as their respective staffs. We will continue to keep you posted as any updates occur.

NED Greenberg Participates in Antisemitism Roundtable
On November 17, 2022, JWV National Executive Director Ken Greenberg represented JWV at a roundtable on antisemitism sponsored by The Friedlander Group.  In his remarks, Greenberg stated JWV’s strong position in fighting antisemitism and cited examples of JWV having a Nazi lithograph removed from the walls of a USAF base in Texas and calling for the resignation of a German official for comments about British Major General Orde Wingate. Greenberg also noted that JWV’s advocacy for William Shemin and Tibor Rubin led to each receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Six members of Congress also spoke at the event.  Attendees included representatives from Jewish community organizations and at least 12 embassies.

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023
JWV worked hard and collaborated with many VSOs as Congress moved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 forward. The NDAA contains many provisions of importance to veterans, retirees, servicemembers, and their families including pay raises, housing, TRICARE, childcare, and commissary access.  On December 6, the House and Senate Armed Services committee leadership announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement. It will be voted on shortly.

JWV Supported H.R. 3304, AUTO for Veterans Act Advances
JWV joined 15 other organizations to urge SVAC to seek expeditious passage of H.R. 3304, the AUTO for Veterans Act.
The House recently passed H.R. 3304. This important legislation had bipartisan support and would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately provide an additional automobile allowance to eligible veterans if 25 years have elapsed since they received their first automobile grant. Over time, the period would shorten to 10 years. The bill would also change the definition of medical services to include certain vehicle modifications like van lifts, which are offered through VA’s Automobile Adaptive Equipment program.

VA only allows eligible veterans to receive a single grant currently worth $22,355.72 to help them purchase a new or used vehicle. Unfortunately, the average useful life of a modified vehicle is about 11.5 years, and it can cost anywhere between $40,000-$60,000 to replace it.

Thanks to advances in science and modern medicine, these veterans are living longer and more independently. Now more than ever, access to an adapted vehicle is essential to the mobility and health of catastrophically disabled veterans by increasing access to VA medical care and improving access to employment, especially for veterans living in rural areas with little or no public transportation. JWV calls on SVAC to move the bill to the floor and for the full Senate to act swiftly and pass the legislation.

VA Plans to cut Emergency Medical Air Transportation Reimbursement Rates – Putting Veterans at Risk
In a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, JWV and the National Military Veterans Alliance (NMVA) expressed deep concern with the Proposed Rule (RIN 2900-AP89, Change in Rates VA Pays for Special Modes of Transportation) that cuts the VA reimbursement rate for emergency air medical services to below the costs of the services themselves. If it is published without changes, it would put more than 2.7 million rural veterans in our country who are enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and 4.8 million rural veterans overall, at risk of losing life-saving emergency air transportation.

These emergency air services are ordered by physicians and first responders, when they believe providing health care within the golden hour after a stroke, heart attack, or other life-threatening situation could be the difference between life or death for a veteran. This proposed rule would cut VA’s reimbursement rate to less than 50% of operational costs, which will cause emergency air medical bases around the country to shut their doors, halting services to veterans.

In January 2022, the No Surprises Act went into effect, requiring air medical companies to submit two years of cost data to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). VA must delay the consideration of any change to its reimbursement rate until HHS publishes that cost data report. JWV and NMVA are requesting that VA immediately stop moving the final rule forward and await the HHS report on the air medical company data.

JWV calls on DOD and HASC and SASC Leadership to Address TRICARE Pharmacy Cuts
JWV, along with NMVA, expressed concern about the recent announcement that nearly 15,000 local and independent pharmacies have chosen not to continue participating in the TRICARE pharmacy program. A letter sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calls on the Department of Defense to immediately reverse the changes to the TRICARE program which led to the mass exodus of these pharmacies, and if the Department of Defense is unable or unwilling to do so, it calls for Congress to adopt a legislative solution in the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The letter was also addressed to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the HASC and SASC.

Under current practices, Express Scripts acts as a pharmacy benefit manager for the TRICARE program while serving as a mail-order and specialty pharmacy itself. This poses a conflict of interest that must be reconciled to ensure TRICARE is compliant with federal procurement law and provides for additional competition in the marketplace to drive down costs and expand options for beneficiaries. The sudden and wrongful network reduction goes far beyond simply reducing access to care for TRICARE beneficiaries.
For those beneficiaries, it eliminates the crucial role local pharmacists play in protecting beneficiaries’ health, especially those requiring multiple medications where contraindications are always a concern.

JWV and NMVA opposes any decisions made solely to ensure cost savings over the quality-of-care beneficiaries are receiving. Such an approach to taking care of service members and their families will harm beneficiaries in the short term and readiness down range.

JWV Joins New Coalition to Reduce VA Surgical Wait Times
JWV has joined Veterans Need Care Now, a grassroots coalition committed to reducing surgical wait times in VA facilities. The coalition is calling on the VA to take urgent action to reduce wait times for veterans requiring anesthesia and pain management services by expanding access to the Department’s 1,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs).

Six years after news reports and court documents first showed veterans were experiencing significant wait times accessing surgeries and other healthcare in the VHA, a national survey conducted by Veterans Need Care Now has found that more than 23% of veteran households still report delays in securing VA health appointments and surgical procedures. Of these delays, 13% were viewed as major problems for veterans and their families.

The coalition’s survey found broad and strong public support for VA to give veterans direct access to the care and services of CRNAs. An overwhelming 88% support this change, extending across party, age, gender, race, and all other key demographics. Among veteran households, 88% are strongly in favor of the proposal. To learn more about the coalition and email your lawmakers and the VA about the proposal, visit

Coalition Building Continues – JWV Added to White Oak Collaborative (WOC)
JWV was recently approved as an observer member of The White Oak Collaborative (WOC). The Collaborative seeks to address the challenges faced by military and veteran-connected communities through data-driven, cross-sector partnerships among its members. Efforts include direct service and/or policy-level solutions, while applying a whole-of-family lens. The steering committee wrote, “We believe that Jewish War Veterans will add a great deal of value to the overall Collaborative, and we look forward to welcoming your organization into the wonderful work we are doing together.”

WOC is a cross-sector coalition of organizations committed to supporting service members, veterans, wounded warriors, caregivers, survivors, and their families. Blue Star Families is the convening authority and secretariat for the collaborative, with more than 200 members representing military and Veteran support organizations, other nonprofits, and private, philanthropic, government, and community sectors. The work of the White Oak Collaborative is non-partisan.

Volume 76. Number 4. 2022