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Tricare and Your Wallet
Old 02-20-2009, 12:48 PM   #1
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Tricare and Your Wallet

Got an email from MOAA today and one of the items mentioned is related to Tricare, a health program that many military retirees and their families participate in. The Pentagon sure love to tinker with it, especially for the under 65 gang.

Here's an extract form it:

Quote:
Pentagon Issues Report on TRICARE Fees

The December 2007 report of the Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care got a lot of attention by urging large increases in fees for military retirees under 65 and an enrollment fee for TRICARE For Life, among many other proposals.
For the last year, those recommendations have been under review by a special committee appointed by the Secretary of Defense. Now that committee has issued its "recommendations on the recommendations."
The good news is that the Pentagon panel didn't propose fee hikes as severe as those urged by the Task Force, and it didn't support the proposal for a TFL enrollment fee.

The bad news is that it still recommended significant fee hikes for retirees under 65, and proposed means-testing those fees based on total family income. Here are some selected specifics:
Fees for under-65 retirees: The DoD committee agreed with the Task Force that TRICARE fees should be raised and periodically adjusted to reflect some percentage of military health costs, but declined to propose specific fee levels. They recommended tying TRICARE Prime enrollment fees to some percentage of the Medicare Part B premium ($96.40 per month this year for the base rate), with a family rate at double the single rate. TRICARE Standard deductibles would be raised by an amount sufficient to provide the same relative level of beneficiary cost-sharing. The committee proposed to have the Defense Department secure congressional authority to raise fees and then figure out how much to raise them. They envisioned phasing in the fee increases over a period of years, citing the Task Force's four-year plan.
Tiering/Means-Testing: The committee recommended setting different tiers of fees based on retirees' family adjusted gross income.
Pharmacy Copays: The committee proposed eliminating copays for generic and brand-name formulary medications purchased through the mail-order pharmacy system. For retail pharmacy purchases, copays would be $4 for generics (vs. the current $3), $20 for brand names (vs. $9), and $30 for non-formulary medications (vs. $22).
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Old 02-20-2009, 12:52 PM   #2
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I suspect means-testing is the wave of the future for pretty much all government benefit programs.
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Old 02-20-2009, 12:53 PM   #3
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These "trial balloons" are getting more frequent. I thought TC and TFL were a very nice gift (although medical care was an implied if not specific benefit of 20 years, or more, of military service) from then President Clinton. In any event I suspect we will see something materialize within the next 7 or so years.
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Old 02-20-2009, 01:02 PM   #4
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I thought TC and TFL were a very nice gift
I'd hesitate to call any government health program that includes those who sacrificed so much as a gift of any kind. I rather consider it just compensation for a job well done when no-one else would step up and get it done.

I can just hear it now "What are you complaininng about? We gave (gifted) you Tricare/TFL for goodness sake?"
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Old 02-20-2009, 02:17 PM   #5
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"The committee proposed to have the Defense Department secure congressional authority to raise fees and then figure out how much to raise them."

So they would like a Congressional blank check? I can't see Congress shirking its duty to this extent. I'm prepared to pay higher deductibles and fees, that's a sign of the times, but I'd also like our congressmen, MOAA, and individuals affected provide an input. If it's left to DoD, we all know how much influence we'll have.
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Old 02-20-2009, 02:55 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mickeyd View Post
I'd hesitate to call any government health program that includes those who sacrificed so much as a gift of any kind. I rather consider it just compensation for a job well done when no-one else would step up and get it done.

I can just hear it now "What are you complaininng about? We gave (gifted) you Tricare/TFL for goodness sake?"
I hesitated at that word but went ahead since it was fought for, for 30 years that I know of, it was approved in the last days of his administration (and could have been just ignored, but was not), and it came as a relative complete surprise. So while it was not a "gift" in the sense as not being earned, I did see it as a "gift" from that administration. I am a card carrying Republican but had to give credit where I thought it was due.
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:25 PM   #7
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A key lawmaker has reintroduced legislation that would freeze Tricare fees for military retirees, a preemptive strike in case the Defense Department tries again to raise deductibles, copayments and enrollment fees in an effort to hold down its health care costs.

The Military Retirees’ Healthcare Protection Act, introduced Tuesday, is important because of its chief sponsor — Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas — and because of the timing.

Edwards, an ally of President Barack Obama who had been discussed as a possible vice presidential running mate, is chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee responsible for military quality of life programs and veterans health care. Overcoming Edwards’ opposition would be difficult.

Additionally, Edwards’ move to drop a bill even before the Obama administration has announced its plans for military health care is a warning sign to the White House and Defense Department that it might be a mistake to assume that Tricare fee increases could be used to help cover health care costs in the 2010 defense budget.

For three consecutive years, the Defense Department has asked Congress to increase Tricare fees for retirees and to revise pharmacy copayments for active-duty families and retirees in order to reduce costs. Congress has rejected the idea every time.

Defense officials estimate fee increases would cut $1.6 billion in defense health care costs, partly from the fees and partly from discouraging working-age retirees who have other health care options from enrolling in the military health benefits plan.

Edwards, who estimates that higher fees would apply to 3 million people, made clear that discouraging the Obama administration is part of his strategy. “I hope the new administration will not request the same premium increases as the last, but this legislation will allow us to remove any temptation,” he said in a statement.

“I believe that keeping our promise of quality, affordable health care for military retirees is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do,” Edwards said. “It is right because our nation has a moral obligation to keep our promises to those who have kept their promise to defend our nation. It is the smart thing to do because we cannot attract the best and brightest to fight our war on terrorism in the years ahead if they see us breaking faith with those who served in years past. To win the war on terrorism, we must keep faith with our warriors.”

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., is an original cosponsor of the bill, which last year had more than 215 cosponsors.
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:34 PM   #8
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Great news, boxkicker. As I was saying, I can't see Congress shirking their duty on this one.
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Old 02-20-2009, 09:31 PM   #9
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As I was saying, I can't see Congress shirking their duty on this one.
Or their voting constituency...
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:54 PM   #10
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Or their voting constituency...
That too!
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