Obama Proposes TRICARE Changes

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2011 — Mil­i­tary retirees would pay an annu­al fee for TRI­CARE-for-Life health insur­ance and TRICARE phar­ma­cy co-pay­ments would be restruc­tured under the deficit reduc­tion plan Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma released today.

“If we’re going to meet our respon­si­bil­i­ties, we have to do it togeth­er,” Oba­ma said dur­ing a Rose Gar­den speech to announce the President’s Plan for Eco­nom­ic Growth and Deficit Reduc­tion. The plan reduces $4.4 tril­lion from the $14.7 tril­lion fed­er­al deficit over 10 years through a com­bi­na­tion of spend­ing cuts and increased tax revenue. 

For the mil­i­tary por­tion, Oba­ma said the gov­ern­ment will save $1.1 tril­lion from the draw­down of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are to be com­plete at the end of this year and in 2014, respectively. 

The plan includes sav­ings of $6.7 bil­lion over 10 years by estab­lish­ing “mod­est annu­al fees” for mem­bers of TRI­CARE-for-Life, which becomes a sec­ond-pay­er insur­ance to mil­i­tary retirees who tran­si­tion to the fed­er­al Medicare pro­gram upon turn­ing age 65. The change would begin with a $200 annu­al fee in fis­cal 2013. 

The plan also includes sav­ings of $15.1 bil­lion in manda­to­ry funds and $5.5 bil­lion in dis­cre­tionary funds over 10 years by restruc­tur­ing co-pay­ments for TRICARE phar­ma­cy benefits. 

To bring the TRICARE plan more in line with pri­vate and oth­er fed­er­al plans, the president’s pro­posed plan would elim­i­nate co-pays for gener­ic mail-order drugs, while shift­ing retail co-pays from a dol­lar amount to a per­cent­age co-pay. The change would apply to mil­i­tary fam­i­lies and retirees, but not active duty ser­vice members. 

These changes will ensure fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty with­out com­pro­mis­ing qual­i­ty care for ser­vice mem­bers and their fam­i­lies, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said in a state­ment released today. 

Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta “has con­sis­tent­ly empha­sized the need to keep faith with our troops and their fam­i­lies,” Lit­tle said. 

“That includes main­tain­ing the high­est qual­i­ty health care for them,” he con­tin­ued. “We will con­tin­ue to main­tain the high­est pos­si­ble health care, but dur­ing this peri­od of fis­cal belt tight­en­ing, we may see mod­est cost increas­es in TRICARE enroll­ment fees and co-pays to sus­tain the health system.” 

The changes are nec­es­sary to help reduce the deficit and ensure the long-term strengths of the pro­grams, a White House news release issued after Obama’s speech said. The changes also would help to lev­el “a mea­sur­able dis­par­i­ty” between mil­i­tary retirees and pri­vate sec­tor work­ers, it says. 

The state­ment notes that the admin­is­tra­tion has expand­ed GI Bill ben­e­fits, job train­ing and vet­er­ans’ home­less pre­ven­tion pro­grams, and pro­posed tax cred­its for employ­ers to hire veterans. 

“Still, as the cost of health care ris­es and ben­e­fit pro­grams across the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors are being restruc­tured to remain sol­vent,” the release says, “it’s impor­tant that pro­grams that serve mil­i­tary retirees and vet­er­ans are mod­ern­ized to be able to meet the needs of the future.” 

The plan also would cre­ate a com­mis­sion to “mod­ern­ize” mil­i­tary ben­e­fits through a process based on that of the 2005 Base Realign­ment and Clo­sure Com­mis­sion, the White House release said. Under the pro­pos­al, the Defense Depart­ment would make a pro­pos­al to the com­mis­sion, which can alter the pro­pos­al before send­ing it to the pres­i­dent. The pres­i­dent may not alter the pro­pos­als, but would decide whether or not to send it to Con­gress. The Con­gress would have to approve or dis­ap­prove with­out modifications. 

“The admin­is­tra­tion believes that any major mil­i­tary retire­ment reforms should include grand­fa­ther­ing pro­vi­sions that ensure that the coun­try does not break faith with mil­i­tary per­son­nel now serv­ing,” the state­ment said. 

Oba­ma said the pro­pos­al to save $4 tril­lion “fin­ish­es what we start­ed last sum­mer” when he and the Con­gress agreed to $1 tril­lion in cost sav­ings. Under the plan, the deficit — the dif­fer­ence between rev­enue and spend­ing — would lev­el out in 2017 where spend­ing is no longer adding to the nation’s debt. 

While “we are scour­ing bud­get for every dime of waste and inef­fi­cien­cy,” Oba­ma said, the pro­posed plan also clos­es cor­po­rate tax loop­holes, rais­es tax­es on mil­lion­aires and makes changes to Med­ic­aid and Medicare in an effort to help small busi­ness­es and mid­dle class Amer­i­cans, and pro­tects spend­ing on edu­ca­tion, sci­ence and infra­struc­ture such as roads and bridges. 

“We’re ask­ing every­body to do their part so no one has to shoul­der too much bur­den,” Oba­ma said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →