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Military Benefits for Retirees, Plan proposed by DoD Officials (USA) / NOT Good News For Military

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posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 03:37 PM
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After completing some outprocessing checklist requirements for my upcoming third deployment to Iraq, I received an email from one of my superiors. Thought I would share this, and I know there will be mixed reactions about it, but thought Americans would like to know how their current elected administration takes care of the military they both rely on and claim to appreciate so much:



AFSAPublication

300-2 December 9, 2005



CALL TO ACTION – STOP DOD PLANS TO SAVAGE THE MILITARY RETIREE HEALTH CARE BENEFIT !



As AFSA has been warning for several months, we have learned that the Administration, through the Department of Defense, is going to propose to Congress drastic increases in the cost of health care for military beneficiaries—with military retirees as the prime target. If DoD has its way, prescriptions would significantly increase for all beneficiaries, and the annual cost of TRICARE Prime would be increased by several hundred percent. Although the TRICARE for Life program would remain intact, the increased cost of prescriptions would significantly reduce the financial well-being and quality-of-life of our oldest retirees, their family members, and survivors. Should these changes succeed, we believe further draconian, anti-retiree proposals will be made by DoD.



In a strongly worded message to Congress and the Administration, AFSA Executive Director Richard M. Dean said, “The impending DoD plans are an unconscionable focus on the bottom line and an unequivocal expression of the current DoD leaders’ utter disregard of the contributions and sacrifices made by those who fight and die for this nation. Frankly, this Administration ought to be ashamed that it would allow the current DoD leadership to show such blatant disregard for those who make the livelihoods of the DoD budgeters possible. We have repeatedly heard disingenuous, orchestrated rhetoric from these DoD officials and their supporters in Congress that military retirees are a burden on this nation and that they are too generously overcompensated. We absolutely disagree with this notion, and urge every AFSA member to immediately call and write to the members of the Senate, the House, and the Administration and tell them to stop these proposed increases in health care and in the pharmacy benefit – if they expect electoral support.” Below is an article recently published by free-lance supporter and AFSA friend, Tom Philpott. His article clearly summarizes what is known to this point about the Administration’s DoD plans to change the military health care system.





Column 49-05 December 8, 2005



HIGHER TRICARE FEES PLANNED FOR UNDER-65 RETIREES by Tom Philpott



Defense Department officials have drafted plans to raise TRICARE enrollment fees and deductibles sharply over the next three years for military retirees under age 65 and their families, about three million beneficiaries.

If the changes touted by senior Defense officials are adopted, annual enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime, the military’s managed care option, would triple by October 2008 for working-age retired officers and double for enlisted retirees.

Yearly deductibles for retirees using TRICARE Standard, the fee-for-service health insurance option, would double for officers and rise by a third for enlisted. Also, for the first time retirees who use TRICARE Standard would pay an enrollment fee in addition to their deductible.

Pharmacy co-payments also would be raised but for all retirees and their families, regardless of age, if they use the retail drug network or the TRICARE mail order program to buy brand name drugs on the military formulary.

The aim of these initiatives is to slow the projected rise in military healthcare costs by as much as $12 billion over five years and $32 billion through fiscal 2015. This would occur, proponents argue, by having working-age retirees pay a greater share of TRICARE costs and by encouraging others to switch to their employer-provided health insurance.

One assumption being used to estimate cost savings is that for every 10 percent increase in out-of-pocket costs, the number of beneficiaries using TRICARE Prime or Standard will fall by one percent. If accurate, 600,000 beneficiaries would drop out of TRICARE plans by 2015.

Defense officials have expressed alarm over a recent migration of retirees into TRICARE and away from employer-provided health insurance. Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, has said that some civilian employers are offering their retired military workers cash incentives to use TRICARE instead of company insurance.

Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said defense healthcare spending, if left unchecked, could reach $64 billion by 2015, or 12 percent of total defense spending, endangering a prized benefit. In fiscal 1995, he said, healthcare was only five percent of the defense budget.

TRICARE Prime enrollment fees of $230 a year for individual coverage and $460 for family coverage, and the TRICARE Standard deductible of $150 (single) and $300 (family) haven’t been raised since they were set more than a decade ago. Whitman said this contributes to growth in department costs.

Budget documents contend the TRICARE fee structure in only one-third as costly to users as equivalent civilian plans. Defense officials not only want fees and deductibles raised for retirees and their families, in three hefty annual increments, but also want fees after that indexed to inflation so they climb in lockstep each year with growth in medical costs nationwide.

Some of the planned TRICARE increases won’t require a change in law, only in regulation, although department plans for fees are sure to be the subject of congressional hearings in 2006. Lawmakers could step in to block or amend the plan if the planned increases seem unreasonable.

Draft budget papers predict a “pushback” from retiree organizations. The first shot was fired Dec. 8 when the Military Coalition, a consortium of 36 service associations and veterans’ groups, sent a letter to members of the House and Senate armed service committees urging that they oppose department plans to shift a larger share of medical costs to retirees.

Congress gave military retirees better health benefits as an “offset to the unique demands and sacrifices inherent in a military career,” the coalition said. Requiring them to pay more for health care, the letter argues, “is not a prudent course of action, especially when the nation is at war.”

The “benefit adjustment” scenario being discussed, both in the fiscal 2007 budget formulation process and resource-sharing debate for the Quadrennial Defense Review, calls for all under-65 retirees to pay more to use TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra, the preferred provider network option, but retired officers also would pay more than enlisted retirees.

Prime enrollment fees (now $230/$460) would be raised for retired officers to $400/$800 (individual/family) next October, to $600/$1200 a year later and to $750/$1500 by October 2008, the start of fiscal 2009. Enlisted retirees under 65 would see Prime enrollment fees climb to $300/$600 next October, to $375/$750 a year later and to $450/$900 in October 2008.

First-ever enrollment fees for TRICARE Standard would start for officers at $150/$300 (individual/family) and rise to $225/$450 by October 2007 and to $300/$600 in 2008. Enlisted retirees would pay $100/$200 next October, rising to $150/$300 the next year and to $200/$400 in 2008.

Annual deductibles under TRICARE Standard and Extra, now $150/$300, would climb for retired officers to $200/$400 next fall, to $250/$500 in October 2007 and to $300/$600 in 2008. Enlisted retirees would see their Standard deductible rise to $175/$350 next October, remain there for two years and rise to $200/400 in October 2008.

Co-payments under the TRICARE pharmacy program would be reshaped to discourage purchase of maintenance medicines in the more expensive retail network. The $3 co-payment for generic drugs will rise to $5 in the retail network but would be free if order by mail. The current $9 co-pay for brand drugs would rise to $15 in retail network and $10 by mail.

To comment, write Military Update, P.O. Box 23111 1, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111, e-mail milupdate@aol.com or visit www.militaryupdate.com



We have repeatedly told our members that benefits are gained through great effort, and that benefits can go away if they are not protected. Despite that, following our great victory on TRICARE for Life, thousand of members dropped their AFSA memberships. When we made great historical strides in the area of Concurrent Receipt, many more dropped their association memberships. Despite the fact that AFSA helped significantly increase their income, the view of these former AFSA members must have been that AFSA was no longer needed since these former AFSA members got what they individually wanted. We view this as a selfish, ungrateful, and patently shortsighted view.



For some reason, many of those whose lives we strive to protect cannot grasp the reality that membership size and strong advocacy are not forces to be taken for granted. AFSA’s membership strength translates into influence and access. As we grow smaller, current and past enlisted members will eventually pay a price. The time to pay that price may well have now arrived. Accordingly, this is not time for procrastination—ACT NOW if you care about the military health care benefit for current and past military members, their family members, and survivors.



This latest challenge in the area of health care will require the active intervention of every AFSA member. It is time now to send a very clear message to your elected officials that they must not only oppose any DoD proposals to significantly increase the military health care benefit, but that they (elected officials) must publicly make a declarative statement in opposition to the proposed increases. Remind them that you are aware that every seat in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate seats will face reelection next fall, and that your vote will depend on their overt response at this time. To be successful in stopping these onerous DoD plans, our members must tell Congress that in order to gain the support of the military electorate, these current and potential elected officials need to speak out against increases in the cost of military health care and the pharmacy benefit.



AFSA members have a great deal of power, if they care to get engaged and exercise their franchise as voting citizens. Please help AFSA Headquarters stop DoD plans to savage the military retiree, family member, and survivor health care benefit. Contact Congress and the Administration now.



To get contact information for your two senators and representative, you can go to the AFSA Web Site at www.afsahq.org, click on “Capitol Hill Update,” then follow the prompts for your House and Senate members. Or AFSA members may call AFSA’s directorate of military and government relations to get that congressional contact information. A sample letter to help shape your thoughts will soon be posted in the Legislative area of the AFSA Web site.



Don’t delay. The future of your benefits is in your hands. Act now!



(Signed)



RICHARD M. DEAN

Executive Director



Your thoughts / Contributions are welcomed. I will not ridicule or condemn anyone for expressing thier views, but may just offer a different point of view, as food for thought and personal reflection.

Every ones voice exists to be heard.





[edit on 3-1-2006 by Esoteric Teacher]




posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 03:53 PM
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I propose the men and women in our military immediately go on strike over this!!!
I mean, when they went into the service, they were promised certain benefits, and they've been chipping away at them ever since....Breech of contract!!

Only kidding....for the most part.

But, well, if anyone in this nation deserves to nice lifestyle, healthcare, and secruity for the rest of thier living days, it is those who fight our danged wars.....more than presidents, more than congressmen, and more than judges!!! Instead, many of their families rely on food stamps. Our value system is warped!



posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 04:19 PM
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Our value system is warped!


From many peoples' perspective this could be an understatement.

Looking back at the $$ spent on "Congressional Hearings" last year where proffessional baseball players had to swear in under oath about where they get their extra 10% of the 110% they give for the game (steroid use), as opposed to the oil excecutives who did not have to swear in under oath concerning thier billions of $ surplus, your observations may be correct.


Perhaps we should propose the oil companies pay for the war veterans health care? If they can make billions of $ surplus inside of 4 months, i am sure they could put a slight dent in the money problem, considering . . . .

[edit on 3-1-2006 by Esoteric Teacher]



posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 06:58 PM
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It seems that my husband and our family will be hurt with this news.

Indeed the government wants to put more stress on retired military families while the cost of living keeps raising every year and the minimum wages is frozen.

But hey is ok to spend billions in Iraq while they expect the military to come home and face the reality of firnacing Bush war.

Because I will say it again this all Bush war.

Cuts in health, government programs and more heading our nation is not way that the population will keep on the spending spree that credit cards are giving them, sooner of later this is going to be felt by everybody's pocket.

The future of our nation is looking very great indeed specially if you are old or retired.

And put your seat belt on because the finacial institutions are going to have a ball with all the laws in their favor and against the consumer.



posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 07:37 PM
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Marg.......

I was just wondering, just what can the banking institutions do if a person owes more money than they could possibly make in their lifetime....and some of the people owe a staggering amount of money!!

It was a nice game.....send out the credit applications, so the people will the money to spend, so the economy can stay afloat....just long enough, so that they can retain office just one more term!! or at least I think that was part of it....

reallly, wish I had more time, but I ran across a few articles yesterday.....that kind of seem to suggest that the new regulations dealing with credit might have a more international origin, maybe the IMF or something. Isreal is restructioning theirs also....and well, the article I was reading was something about the UN....maybe....deciding that it had to be tightened...Isreal voted no. if someone has more time than me, and want to see if they can hunt it down??? I came close, but the article I found wasn't english..so, well....out of luck there.

the biggest insult I think, to the troops, when they come home, will be seeing just what has happened to america, it's freedom, and well, forget about the economy!!



posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 07:47 PM
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Originally posted by dawnstar
Marg.......

.....that kind of seem to suggest that the new regulations dealing with credit might have a more international origin, ....


Wow. Profound statement, and certainly international politics do play a role in ours. Good find, great contribution.

Marg,
Sorry about the administrations Holiday present for you and your loved ones. Interesting how they wrapped it for us. Interesting how it is nowhere to be found in the mainstream press, but then again the mainstream press is owned by companies that recieve most of their funding through government contracting, ie = NBC.

Again Marge, if this becomes a reality (not yet certain) I am sorry.



posted on Jan, 3 2006 @ 07:53 PM
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Actually we have been warn for a year already because my husband is under tricare and also is retire as you know.

And the funny thing is that he works for one of the defense department civilian contractors and this company is big but. . . . can you believe that when it comes to their health plan they do not offer a full health plan because the retire status they know that we are under tricare.

Is just incredible, they only have Supplemental coverage

But is been a lot of very angry retirees already making a lot of noise and hopefully it will be stop.

Dawnstar that is very interesting post I will love to know more.



posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 11:22 AM
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Originally posted by marg6043
Actually we have been warn for a year already ... .


Let's you know how busy my work-related duties have kept me the past year+, this was the first i had heard about it.

Thanks Marge.



posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 11:36 AM
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Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher

Let's you know how busy my work-related duties have kept me the past year+, this was the first i had heard about it.

Thanks Marge.


I understand we kind of put it in the back burner, my husband is really confident that the people that fight for retirees rights (lobbyists) will stop it.

But you never know.

Tricare is now offering their discount prescription drugs to any body.



posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 11:54 AM
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No bid contracts for Haliburton at whos' expense?

The Pentagon needs to find ways to cut costs some way.

No good deed goes unpunished



posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 12:46 PM
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Tell me about it


It's like trying to squeeze money from somewhere to keep financing the war.

Big business in Iraq now a days is the business of security, have to keep the Iraqi government alive long enough to do something than just planning for elections. Right?

BTW the Retirees news letter is the one that keeps us informed of what is going on at government level when it comes to benefits and what the veterans affairs are doing to help.

You know I think I am going to start posting news from their newsletters to keep the information available for those that needed.



posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 12:55 PM
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Originally posted by marg6043

It's like trying to squeeze money from somewhere to keep financing the war.


Makes one think. No one could possibly be this evil. I can not envision that greed and the need for domination is the root and seed for the justification for these actions. I compare everything i observe to what it is i know for sure, my opinions, my accepted truths. And, i simply cannot accept foul intentions are the cause for such effects. There must be underlining circumstances, alien influences perhaps? My point? We are are not seeing the whole picture. Everything that is happening must be someway, somehow inter-connected. Chance is an illusionary variable, cause and effect of actions and behaviors are measurable.



You know I think I am going to start posting news from their newsletters to keep the information available for those that needed.


that is a great idea, and I'm sure it would at to the collective communication shared here on ATS. Members would probably be very appreciative.



posted on Jan, 12 2006 @ 12:16 PM
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Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher
After completing some outprocessing checklist requirements for my upcoming third deployment to Iraq, I received an email from one of my superiors. Thought I would share this, and I know there will be mixed reactions about it, but thought Americans would like to know how their current elected administration takes care of the military they both rely on and claim to appreciate so much:


First off Airman (sorry, I don't know your pay grade, but I'm assuming it starts with an E?), I am curious if you have paid your dues and joined AFSA (that's the Air Force Sergeants Association, for the rest of you).

If not, do it. Immediately. Also, urge every enlisted person working with you or for you to do it too, and make sure your superior is a member. You can be pissed about this info all you want, but I got news for you, this is nothing new. I could probably list 10 ways off the top of my head that DoD has tried to screw the enlisted men and women in this country in the last 10 years alone. It is a matter of course with them, and one could argue both sides of every issue, although ultimately, most will side (rightly) with the enlisted men and women.

The thing is, the only way to prevent it is by making your voice heard. That’s a bit difficult to do as a single individual. So, the only way to ensure that your voice is heard, is to group it with lots of other voices, all saying the same thing. Oddly enough, AFSA’s motto is “The VOICE of the Enlisted.” Their primary goal is to lobby Capitol Hill to ensure that you have the very best quality of life benefits, and that none of your current benefits are ever taken away.

My friend, the sad thing is that the last time I checked, there wer about 370,000 active duty enlisted people in the AF and ANG combined, but, there are only about 135,000 members in AFSA. Most of them are retired. Notice the problem?

This is an organization that EVERY SINGLE ENLISTED MAN AND WOMAN IN THE AF OR ANG needs to join and support. And, I think it’s like $25 a year to join.

Every additional member who joins adds one more voice to the VOICE of the Enlisted. That means when they go to lobby or testify before congress, and when they go to meet individually with congressmen and women, they carry the backing of that many more potential VOTERS, which translates into VERY INTERESTED lawmakers.

In short, if you don’t show that you care in the only way available, why should congress care? I know it’s crass to say, but that is EXACTLY how congress works.

Plus, you get a good magazine 9 times a year. It has good articles and it’s pretty well done. And, there is a reason why CMSAF Murray is a member.

I think this section of Chief Dean’s letter makes the case pretty clearly.
For those of you who think this is “Bush” thing, think again. This has gone on for as long as anyone can remember. Surprisingly, the push for these kind of reductions in benefits usually doesn’t come from any administration. Instead, it usually comes from the Pentagon. So, when it seems like the “administration” wants to cut your commissary privileges, it’s more likely that the Pentagon is the one pushing for it, because DoD doesn’t want to be in the grocery business. Plain and simple.



We have repeatedly told our members that benefits are gained through great effort, and that benefits can go away if they are not protected. Despite that, following our great victory on TRICARE for Life, thousand of members dropped their AFSA memberships. When we made great historical strides in the area of Concurrent Receipt, many more dropped their association memberships. Despite the fact that AFSA helped significantly increase their income, the view of these former AFSA members must have been that AFSA was no longer needed since these former AFSA members got what they individually wanted. We view this as a selfish, ungrateful, and patently shortsighted view.

For some reason, many of those whose lives we strive to protect cannot grasp the reality that membership size and strong advocacy are not forces to be taken for granted. AFSA’s membership strength translates into influence and access. As we grow smaller, current and past enlisted members will eventually pay a price. The time to pay that price may well have now arrived. Accordingly, this is not time for procrastination—ACT NOW if you care about the military health care benefit for current and past military members, their family members, and survivors.


That about says it all. CMSgt (Ret.) Dean is one hell of a straight shooter, and I would take as truth just about anything he says. These folks are there to con you. They are there to help.

Again, Esoteric Teacher, good luck in the desert, and join immediately. Get your friends too. This is the ABSOLUTE BEST way to fight these kinds of changes to your benefits. And remember, even when Bush is gone, you’ll still face these constant attempts by DoD to reduce your benefits.

For everyone else, don't be so quick to jump on the "bad administration" bandwagon. All of them do this. It's really, DoD, not any one administration.



posted on Jan, 12 2006 @ 12:35 PM
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Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher
Makes one think. No one could possibly be this evil. I can not envision that greed and the need for domination is the root and seed for the justification for these actions. I compare everything i observe to what it is i know for sure, my opinions, my accepted truths. And, i simply cannot accept foul intentions are the cause for such effects. There must be underlining circumstances, alien influences perhaps? My point? We are are not seeing the whole picture. Everything that is happening must be someway, somehow inter-connected. Chance is an illusionary variable, cause and effect of actions and behaviors are measurable.


Just to repeat. This sort of thing tends to have nothing to do with any sitting administration. And, it certainly has nothing to do with Halliburton or oil. It has everything to do with DoD. Here are some examples:

1. DoD doesn’t want to be in the grocery business, so they frequently try to screw over the commissary system. One trick that some suspect them of pulling in recent years is to cut back on the number of commissary employees. Invariably the shelves are stocked as frequently (Esoteric and marg, assuming you use the fantastic commissary benefit, you may have noticed this). Once products are understocked and scarce, members start going to off-base stores to find the products they used to get at the commissary. Then, DoD starts saying, “see, people don’t even use the commissary anymore, so please Mr. Congressman, let us close them down.”

2. There has been an ongoing battle over something called concurrent receipt. Basically, if you are a retiree, drawing your retired pay, once you start receiving Social Security, your retired pay is cut by exactly the amount you are receiving in SS. So, let’s say you get $1,000 a month in retirement pay, then start getting $500 a month in SS. Your retirement pay gets offset by $500, so you still only get $1,000 per month (not the $1,500 a month you’ve earned). This is so DoD can save money, and buy some new planes. This may have recently been fixed, but it has been a hot issue for YEARS.

3. One of AFSA’s biggest victories not too many years ago was TRICARE for Life. It didn’t exist before, ‘cause just like the grocery business, DoD doesn’t want to be in the healthcare business. Instead, they want some Ospreys.

4. DoD is MANDATED to provide pay raises at a minimum of ½ percent ABOVE the COLA (cost of living adjustment). But, EVERY SINGLE YEAR when the defense spending bill hits congress, DoD tries to make the raises some value UNDER the COLA. Then, when it doesn’t work (and it pretty much never does), they wait an extra month to start paying the raise. This is a complex setup to explain, but I’ll try. Let’s say you make $10 a year, starting on 1/1/2005. You are given a 5% pay raise by congress. Instead of instituting that pay raise on 1/1/2006, like they should, DoD starts it on 3/1/2006. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you add that 50 cents up over 370,000 enlisted people and who-knows-how-many officers over two months, it adds up to A LOT of money that DoD saves by stiffing YOU.

So you see, the bulk of these issues are originating from DoD, not any one administration. They’ve been doing it forever and you should thank your lucky stars for the various groups like AFSA, AFA, etc. who work everyday to prevent it.

And, the underlying cause is not too hard to figure out. Every dollar they don’t pay you (either directly in your check or indirectly through benefits like the commissary) equals one dollar they can spend on new toys, R&D, or more stuff. Simple. Crappy, but simple.






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