Jun 02 2009
New Life for Old Information
We have written two articles here on BotB regarding the emails going around regarding the Congressional Budget Office and the future of TRICARE and TFL. The subject has also been addressed in Legislative Updates and ‘As I See It’, but the steep rise in the number of emails received in the past week has been surprising as these things usually trail off. One possible reason for the resurgence is a new introductory commentary in the email, but the more probable reason is that this concerns health care and money, two things everyone is worried about right now.
Below the fold you will find the email in question and MOAA’s official response to the CBO/TFL concerns.
New Version of CBO/TFL Email
From: Sutton, Richard O COL MIL USA ARBA
Subject: FW: Tricare for Life
To: All Military Retirees:
This is a “Heads Up” on a battle we are facing now and down the road with the new Administration. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has already drafted proposed legislation that would basically reduce our TRICARE for Life benefits to a system whereby we pay deductibles and co-pays up to $6,301 the first year for you and your spouse, with future years being indexed to increase with inflation.
What can we do? The article below, obtained from an Air Force Association and written by BG Bob Clements, best describes what we can do. Please read it and check the links for CBO language and do what Bob says-Send this email to every Military Retiree you know and write and email your Congressman often. For those of you that might have voted for “Change”, you should do it more than often!
TRICARE FOR LIFE’S FUTURE….
TRICARE For Life was instituted to correct the broken promise that military retirees would receive free healthcare coverage for life and it covers the Medicare co-pay..Now a heavy assault has begun on Veterans’/Retirees’ benefits to pay for other programs our President promised during the campaign. An it is a high priority of his Administration.
The one item of most interest to Retired Military is in Article 189. If approved by Congress the first assault wave would hit in 2011 and would hit hard. It would initiate cost sharing to require retirees to pay t he first $525 of medical cost and 50% of the next $4,725 for a first year cost of $2,888 per person. It would be indexed to increase with inflation. A reason given for this action (for PR effect) is “overuse” by Retirees.
In any case, on page 189 of the Congressional Budget Office report, see the note below on how to get to that spot, there is a strong recommendation to eventually eliminate the program as it is too expensive.
Just another move to slight those of us who dedicated much of our adult lives to the defense of our country.
Strongly recommend that you contact your elected officials and register your strong opposition to the elimination of the TFL program.
Official Response from MOAA’s President, VADM Norbert R Ryan, Jr., USN-Ret
Unfortunately, things sent out on the internet acquire lives of their own that go on long after the origin has been overcome by events.
The message refers to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) options list that was prepared last year. It provided a list of options (not recommendations) that government leaders might consider if they wanted to increase or cut spending in various areas of government – health care in this case.
The reality is that the CBO puts out this kind of list after every congressional election. In most cases, nothing comes of the recommendations – at least those on military health care.
Worries that such initiatives would show up in President Obama’s budget proved unfounded. The new budget proposes fully funding TRICARE for the first time in four years – with no proposed benefit reductions or fee increases.
That said, we do think it’s only a matter of time before there are new efforts to cut back on military health care spending – including TRICARE For Life.
The most likely immediate challenge will come on Medicare, which is costing significantly more than current payroll taxes can sustain. We expect that fixing this situation will be a major focus of the Administration and Congress in the coming few years. MOAA will be tracking that issue closely to ensure any changes reflect fairness for all.
In the longer term, we believe Congress will eventually try to shift more costs to beneficiaries for TFL, most likely in the form of an enrollment fee, which MOAA doesn’t support. We believe strongly that Congress did the right thing in enacting TFL in 2001, and that nothing has changed during the last 7 years of war to make military retirees any less deserving of this crucial health coverage. If and when any such proposals arise, MOAA and our members will lead the charge to ensure it’s protected.
In the meantime, we will continue to remind the administration that TFL is an earned benefit and an important retention tool. And when the time comes, we’ll be asking for your support in writing your legislators to help preserve these important earned benefits.