- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2005

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Would you please publish my invitation and encouragement to all armed services personnel and their families, active and retired, to make it a point to visit one or more of our American cemeteries when traveling in Europe; Tunis, Tunisia; Manila; Mexico City; or Panama? These uniquely splendid memorials to our war dead buried overseas inspire patriotism, evoke gratitude and teach history. They are the best-cared-for cemeteries in the world and an enduring tribute to the competence, courage and sacrifice of those buried there.

For vivid previews of what can be seen and the history contained within American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries and memorials, your readers should visit our Web site at www.abmc.gov. Those who visit our cemeteries will be glad they went and will forever remember those magnificent tributes to American opposition to tyranny and injustice.

Sincerely,

Brig. Gen. J.W. Nicholson

Army, retired

Dear General:

I gladly join you in urging all Americans to visit these wonderful memorials to our fallen heroes.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My most sincere congratulations on your recent richly deserved honors. To me, such recognition by peers and the military family means more than a monetary bonus, fast spent and forgotten.

In regard to Medicare and Tricare for Life (TFL), you may be aware that some providers refuse to accept TFL. Tricare’s delays and payment schedule are such that they say it does not pay. As for Medicare, according to what I understand, when they receive a claim, it is supposed to be forwarded to TFL. Occasionally, they fail to forward a denied claim and return it to the provider. The provider then bills the patient instead of appealing or forwarding the claim to TFL. Most providers will follow procedures when informed, but some refuse.

I have had a three-year feud with one company that adamantly refused to send the claim to TFL. I refuse to pay. One of their operators told me, confidentially, that the procedure that was billed to me for $36 would bring in only about $7.50 from Medicare or TFL.

She also implied that they may bill a procedure as “routine,” knowing that Medicare will deny it, instead of as a “follow-up,” which would be paid.

Additionally, when we receive an information sheet from Medicare, it has a notation that it should be carefully screened, and to inform them if there are discrepancies.

Sincerely,

Master Sgt. John B.

Air Force, retired

Stafford, Va.

Dear John:

Thanks so much for the congratulations and for sharing your traveling travesty through the Medicare/TFL maze. Hopefully, by printing your TFL misadventure, Congress will review these issues and hold appropriate hearings to fix the program.

Shaft notes

The maximum coverage for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) will be boosted permanently to $400,000 by a bill marked up in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“Our freedoms were secured by Americans who wore the uniform and are wearing it today,” said Chairman Steve Buyer, Indian Republican. “With this increased insurance coverage, we help ensure that our service members and veterans can provide for their families.”

H.R. 3200, the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Enhancement Act of 2005, increases the maximum coverage available to service members and veterans from the current $250,000 ceiling to $400,000. These increases were enacted earlier this year in the war supplemental appropriations act and expire Sept. 30. H.R. 3200 will make them permanent.

“I am very pleased the committee has come together to improve and increase these important life-insurance benefits in a timely, fair and bipartisan manner. Service members, veterans and military families have certainly earned our best efforts,” said Rep. Lane Evans, Illinois Democrat.

The bill also boosts the incremental increases in both of these life-insurance programs from the current $10,000 to $50,000.

The new maximums would go into effect Sept. 1. The coverage of all policies included, regardless of coverage amount, then would be changed immediately to the maximum $400,000. Policyholders then would have the opportunity to decrease coverage if they choose.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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