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L E G I S L AT I V E N E W S
T H AT A F F E C T S Y O U
Health Scare
Budget “options” published by the CBO have stirred worries
among military retirees about TRICARE For Life and more.
And there’s some reason for concern.
A
document published by $4,725. This option also would impose
COLA Deeper
the CBO in December 2008 charges for those who use military hos-
in the Hole
has been causing under- pitals and clinics; a73 Inflation dropped
standable consternation a73 raise TRICARE fees for military
another full percentage
on many fronts, including retirees under age 65 to more than dou-
point in December, total-
the military and veterans community. Omi- ble the current rates. Annual enrollment
ing -5 percent for the first
three months of FY 2010.
nously titled “Budget Options: fees for TRICARE Prime
So inflation will have to
Volume 1, Health Care” (with would be $550 (single) and rise at least 5 percent
more volumes yet to come
on other issues), it offers “115
It’s only a
$1,100 (family). TRICARE
in the next 9 months to
Standard deductibles would
see any 2010 COLA at
options for reducing (or, in matter of be raised to $350 (single)
all. That’s happened only
some cases, increasing) federal
time before
once in 19 years — but it
and $700 (family), plus
was last year!
spending on health care, alter-
attacks on
an annual enrollment fee
ing federal health care pro-
grams, and making substantive
TRICARE
of $50 (single) and $100
(family), plus additional
changes to the nation’s health
For Life
charges for those who use
insurance system.”
will come.
military facilities;
Those options range from a73 end VA health care eligi-
authorizing private-sector bility for veterans in catego-
workers to purchase coverage ries 7 and 8 (nondisabled
under the federal civilian health plan to veterans above certain income levels); and
raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 a73 reopen VA health care enrollment to
and raising Medicare Part B premiums by category 8 veterans for fi ve years.
40 percent. First things fi rst: It’s important to un-
Several options in particular grab the derstand that this book of options is noth-
attention of the military and veterans com- ing new. The CBO puts out similar lists
munity, including options that would: of options at the start of every Congress,
a73 authorize a $500 annual health care and previous option books have included
allowance for active duty families but these or similar proposals. Some of the
charge them 10 percent of the cost of care cuts were, in fact, put in the Bush admin-
and impose a fee for them to use military istration’s annual budgets, but they were
hospitals and clinics; rebuffed by Congress every year.
a73 change TRICARE For Life so it would Second, these are options put forth by
not cover the fi rst $525 of Medicare- the CBO, not recommendations. In many
eligible military benefi ciaries annual cases, the papers acknowledge there are
cost-share and cover only half of the next downsides to the proposals, such as the
M A R C H 2 0 0 9 M I L I T A R Y O F F I C E R 3 1
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