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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/1/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Many in Congress oppose proposed changes

Part of the Obama administration's proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their health care. In contrast, unionized civilian defense workers' benefits will remain the same. The proposal has caused a major rift within the Pentagon. Some have suggested that the proposal is designed to increase the enrollment in "Obamacare's" state-run insurance exchanges.

Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.

Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/1/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Military health care, Pentagon, budget cuts, Obamacare


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The proposal is also causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention. The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon's $487 billion cut in spending. The proposal seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.

Many lawmakers are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.

"We shouldn't ask our military to pay our bills when we aren't willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population," Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said in a statement. "We can't keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more."

Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare, to eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,  -- i.e., "Obamacare."

"When they talked to us, they did mention the option of healthcare exchanges under Obamacare. So it's in their mind," a congressional aide involved in the issue says.

Military personnel from several of the armed services voiced their opposition to a means-tested tier system for Tricare, prompting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to issue a statement this month.

Dempsey said the military is making tough choices in cutting defense spending. "I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we've heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for Tricare in retirement," Dempsey said.

"You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible."

Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.

Congress must pass all the proposed changes into law, as last year's defense authorization bill preemptively limited how much the Pentagon could increase some Tricare fees, while other fees already were limited in law.

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