[HEALTH.MIL] McCain Proposal Would Raise Tricare Fees

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  • Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2011 11:55:15 -0600


McCain Proposal Would Raise Tricare Fees

Washington Post

By Lisa Rein

After years of lobbying by the Pentagon, health insurance fees for working-age
military retirees jumped Oct. 1. 


But the debate over who should shoulder soaring health-care costs for the
military is back in the Senate, which takes up a proposal this week from Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz) to raise the fees for the system known as Tricare higher



NOTE:  The text of Senator McCain's amendment is available at
veData.php| (click on TEXT OF AMENDMENT AS SUBMITTED: CR S7838)


About 586,000 retirees of working age are paying annual family premiums of $520,
up from $460, and individual premiums of $260, up from $230. Pharmacy co-pays
also rose between $2 and $3.

The higher fees for the program's popular HMO are part of a Defense Department
effort to slash personnel costs by billions of dollars. Premiums had not been
changed in 17 years.

The question now is how high the increases should climb in the future. The
fiscal 2012 Defense Authorization bill under debate in the Senate this week
includes language that would hold down costs by capping increases at the rate of
the cost-of-living adjustment in military retired pay. In the past four years,
that increase has ranged from zero to 5.8 percent, according to the Military
Officers Association of America (MOAA), an influential service group.

But McCain, the decorated war veteran and former prisoner of war, has proposed
an amendment that would tie increases to the annual growth in health costs,
estimated at 6 percent a year. The Pentagon agrees.

"As with other challenges we faced in this bill, we could have and should have
done more," McCain said on the Senate floor this month. "Military retirees and
their families deserve the best possible care in return for a career of military
service, and nothing less. But we cannot ignore the fact that health-care costs
will undermine the combat capability and training and readiness of our military
if we don't begin to control the cost growth now."

Not surprisingly, the amendment has drawn fire from MOAA and other service
groups, who argue that inexpensive lifetime health care was part of a deal they
made with the government for risking their lives on the battlefield.

"A few years ago when he was running for president, Senator McCain said he
opposed any fee increases whatsoever," said Steve Strobridge, director of
government relations for MOAA. "We acknowledge times have changed, but military
people should be the last people you're going after."




SOURCE:  Washington Post "Federal Eye" article at



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