Saturday, March 25, 2006

Write Your Congressman

Congress Must Block White House From Cutting Military Health Care
But this year, the Bush administration decided it was time to make major cuts in the TRICARE retiree program to help pay for the war in Iraq. The administration has proposed a defense budget which would triple the annual TRICARE Prime enrollment fee for retired officers under 65, double the annual enrollment fee for senior enlisted retirees under 65 and increase the annual enrollment fee by 41 percent for enlisted retirees E-6 and below under the age of 65.

Anyone who opts for TRICARE Standard would have to pay an annual enrollment fee for the first time, though it would not be as high as the TRICARE Prime enrollment fee. At the same time, the administration also proposed raising deductibles for everyone covered under TRICARE Standard.

Let’s be very specific. Retired officers under TRICARE Prime will see their annual enrollment fee for an individual go up from the current level of $230 to $700 in two years. Family enrollment fees for retired officers will go up from the current level of $460 to $1,400 in two years.

For senior enlisted retirees under TRICARE Prime the annual fee would increase from the current individual level of $230 to $475 in two years and the family enrollment fee would go up from $460 to $950 in two years.

Those military retiree families who elect TRICARE Standard could expect new enrollment fees ranging from $280 to $560 plus higher deductibles.

In a move that can only be described as cynical, the Bush administration is trying to create savings by raising fees, deductibles and co-pays to such a level that many retirees will abandon TRICARE in favor of health insurance provided by their post-military employers (for those who have second career jobs). The assumption is that employed retirees currently sign up for TRICARE rather than health insurance through their new employer because TRICARE is so much cheaper and since many employers require the employee to pay a hefty portion of their health insurance premiums.
One of the reasons we stick-out 20 of active duty service with lousy pay is because the lack of pay is made up for with other benefits, medical care after retirement being the most important. When I joined the Navy, the promise was of free medical for life. Then under the Clintons we got TRICARE and the fees mentioned in the article linked above. OK, I have no problem with that.

This goes too far.

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