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The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials.
According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.
“Would you stay with a car insurance company that raised your premiums by 345 percent in five years? Probably not,” said the congressional aide. “Would anybody accept their taxes being raised 345 percent in five years? Probably not.”
Originally posted by TheOneElectric
I don't agree with this for a second, but it's a cautionary tale.
Be careful what you wish for? You want entitlement cuts? You want government welfare spending to be cut...
Your wish is my command. Don't throw a hissy fit when it doesn't go exactly how you wanted it.
Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 increases the overall Veterans Affairs budget by more than 10 percent. The numbers are big: from $53 billion in FY 2010 to almost $59 billion in FY 2012.
It provides new benefits for veterans’ caregivers, including health care and mental health services, and invests nearly $1 billion in VA services for homeless veterans and those at risk of becoming homeless.
The White House pointed us to several examples of how VA services have been beefed up, summed up in a comment Obama made in 2009:
"We dramatically increased funding for veterans' health care: more care for women's veterans, for our wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries," Obama said at a 2009 signing of a bill that funds veterans’ medical care a year in advance.
Separately, PolitiFact has given Obama seven Promise Kept ratings on pledges he made to improve services to veterans, compared with zero Promise Brokens.
* A new $200 annual fee for TRICARE for Life recipients. Open to veterans 65 and older, TRICARE for Life pays out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare. This proposed fee is estimated to save approximately $6.7 billion over 10 years, according to the plan.
* Increases in pharmacy co-pays. The plan says "co-payments for military members have lagged behind other federal and private plans. For example, the average co-payment for a costly brand-name drug purchased at a drug store by a federal retiree in the most popular medical plan option is estimated to be $45, compared to $9 for a military retiree."
* Review and reform military retirement benefits. The current system, the plan states, "provides generous benefits to the relatively few members who stay for at least 20 years and no benefits for the roughly 80 percent of service members who stay less than 20 years. To consider reforms the Administration plans to set up a commission to develop recommendations for reforming the current military retirement system." We should add that the president suggests grandfathering in those now serving so that major reforms don’t affect them.
(Source: Defense Bill Passes: 2012 Military Pay, TRICARE, and More
TRICARE Prime Enrollment Fees: The NDAA includes a provision (Title VII, Sect 701) which will increase TRICARE Prime enrollment fees for military retirees by the same percentage as the annual retiree Cost-of-living-Adjustment (COLA). This is not big surprise to most and many see this as a fair way to meet the increasing cost of health care. It is a lot easier to take than Sen. McCain’s suggestion to take the benefit away from retirees all together.
The TRICARE fee increases mean that military retirees in upper-income tiers would see their health care contributions nearly quadruple over the next five years, Defense Comptroller Robert Hale told reporters Monday. “It’s quite generous compensation compared to private sector plans,” Hale said, adding the department could “revisit” the personnel figures -- which make up $135.1 billion of the fiscal 2013 base budget -- if the economy were to improve.
The proposal includes some good news for military families: It provides $48.7 billion for the Defense Unified Medical Budget to support the Military Health System and $8.5 billion to support the “well-being and psychological health of the military family, ensuring excellence in military children’s education and their development, developing career and educational opportunities for military spouses, and increasing child care,” budget documents said.
November 7, 2011 • Terry Howell
Looking to kick retirees out of TRICARE Prime, Sen. McCain told the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction, that restricting working-age retirees and their families from participating in TRICARE Prime would help them avoid spending cuts that would directly impact readiness.
As Tom Philpott recently reported, McCain was once a champion for expanded TRICARE benefits to retirees. But, he now feels eliminating retiree TRICARE Prime is more acceptable than alternatives to cut equipment, training or key weapon pro*grams needed by the current force.
In addition, McCain supports President Obama’s proposal to set a $200 a year enrollment fee for TRICARE for Life, for military beneficiaries age 65 and older.
If with only TRICARE Standard, retirees would face higher out-of-pockets costs, annual deductibles and cost-sharing requirements. Under TRICARE Standard out-of-pocket costs can’t exceed an annual catastrophic cap. But according to Philpott, the CBO suggests raising that cap of $3000 a year per family to $7500.
In addition the CBO predicts that the number of working-age military retirees using TRICARE would drop form 71 percent to 35 percent they were denied access to TRICARE Prime. The CBO also assumes that retirees would switch to their employer-provided health care option.
Read Tom Philpott’s article to learn more McCain’s proposal to cut TRICARE for Retirees.
Let your elected officials know how you feel about Senator McCain’s proposals.
Goldfarb is trying to make a name for the Washington Free Beacon, a week-old conservative news site run by the Center for American Freedom, which he chairs.
Michael Goldfarb is a neoconservate American political writer. He is contributing editor for The Weekly Standard and was a research associate at the Project for the New American Century.