The CBO/TRICARE Email That Won’t Die

Oct 23 2009

BotB Verdict

“Myth is, after all, the neverending story.” – Joan Vinge

Such Long Legs This Has

The better to fool people with. What started as an impassioned yet unrealistic review of the Congressional Budget Office’s recommendations to President Obama has continued to gain traction in the email world. Although we’ve already discussed this subject twice in previous articles, some changes have been made in the language of the introduction and the email title, giving it new legs. But this doesn’t change the fact that the CBO report was a recommendation to the administrations that was flatly rejected, TRICARE and TFL funding have made it through the NDAA so far, and the Health Care Reform bill contains no language that would affect military health care.

The Newest Iteration of the Email

Received from a retired USMC General Officer today

This is supposedly true. It is on pages 77, 172, 218, and 434. You have to dig to see the charges. We (retirees) would lose the Medicare for life benefit and would have to pay. We would lose TRICARE as a total care package.

We would not be allowed to keep TRICARE so when Obama stands and says if you like what you have you can keep it, he lies.

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 the 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.

BOTB Note: See here for the original email that has been debunked.

New Packaging, Same Bilge

Although there is absolutely nothing new in the contents of the article from General Clements, it is still one of the most transmitted emails out there. What is new about this version is the increase in attacks on the White House, such as:

We would not be allowed to keep TRICARE so when Obama stands and says if you like what you have you can keep it, he lies.

If this email is new to you, please understand that the CBO’s recommendations are not legislation. They are not included in any bill in Congress and were never under serious consideration by the White House.

For a better understanding of how the CBO process works, see Colonel Steve Strobridge’s As I See It column from January of this year. Yes, it goes back that far. At the time we had not seen the budget or how the recommendations would be taken. Once the budget came out, we saw that none of the reductions in TRICARE or TFL coverage were included.

As noted previously, the president vowed to protect TRICARE and VA benefits during his speech to the VFW this summer and again to a small group of military reporters in August. We saw with the fee hike to inpatient hospital stays that was issued on October 1st and the subsequent quick killing of that policy that Congress and the administration are quick to act when something is done at a managerial level that would decrease military standards of living. Yet, the email continues to be passed along, out of fear, out of political opposition or out of a lack of clear information.

Real Threats

I can only say once again that we are watching, and watching closely, for anything that would affect military health care. If there is anything to be concerned about we will call on you to help, just as we did with last week’s Legislative Update, asking you to contact your representatives to urge them to support the ‘Medicare Physician Fairness Act’ (S. 1776). Unfortunately, that effort failed to be brought to a full Senate vote because all 40 Republicans and 13 Democrats voted for blocking it. That bill would have permanently repealed Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate. If the SGR is not repealed or pushed back, Medicare providers would see a 21.5% cut in payments in January, 2010.

How did the bill not reach a full vote? Because a good number of pundits and conservative outlets called it a sidestepping of President Obama’s promise not to add a dime to the deficit with the Health Care Reform bill. The measure will most likely be put back into the HCR bill as a one or two year fix, thus pushing off the increases in Medicare costs to seniors to later years. But we missed the chance to get a permanent fix that would have finally solved the problems, because of politics. And it wasn’t the politics of the administration that caused it.

For more information on the failure of S. 1776, please see AARP’s press release here, and I’m sure we’ll have something about the issue in upcoming Legislative Updates.


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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “The CBO/TRICARE Email That Won’t Die”

  1. George S. Harrison 01 Nov 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Interesting enough I received and e-mail last week from a member who had gotten thiks particular myth in his e-mail once again. It put out as if it was brand new and blamed the Obama administration, which would lead me to believe it was from Republican individual or organization.

    We retired are naturally “en garde” with all of the iterations for health care reform floating around on the Hill. Medicare, on which Tricare for Life depends, is already so screwed up by previous congressional cost saving actions that it is getting more and more difficult to find a physcian who will accept Medicare/Tricare for Life. If MOAA wants to pick up a gauntlet, it should help others solve the Medicare mess in order to help preserve Tricare for Life.

  2. Char DeWalton 19 Nov 2009 at 10:19 am

    I wish there was someone we could believe without question. What I have learned, starting with AARP, is that everyone can be bought. AARP sold out for the provision that the government option for additional Medicare coverage be dropped which leaves AARP as the only provider for additional insurance Medicare coverage. This would bring in big bucks in the future for AARP which, I am sure, is the trade off they made to support the health care bill. The failure of some to support the Medicare Physician’s Fairness Act needs to be examined for why it was not supported. Could it perhaps be the “pork” that is attached to every bill Congress looks at?? I have lost total faith and trust in Washington as a whole including those very groups who claim they are there to help us and protect our rights including the sacrifices our service members have made in exchange for receiving health care for life. It seems to me that with an administration who places so little value on our military much less those who are retired from the military, with an understanding and trust in the organizations such as MOAA to help protect us from having these privileges taken away, we are sitting ducks for a Congress to wipe out everything we worked for and counted on during all the years of sacrifice, separation and less pay for services rendered. Very few members of the current Congress have had military service and we have a President who clearly does not get it. We need to watch what he and his administration do and not what Obama says. His words mean nothing. His actions do. Will someone please tell me whom to trust??

  3. Matthew LoFiegoon 19 Nov 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Belief without question is something hard to come by these days, with so many conflicting interests. The House did just pass their version of the doctor payment fix, and if you’d like to see who voted which way, visit:

  4. John Renzion 19 Nov 2009 at 8:02 pm

    It is difficult to understand just what this Administration is doing. I don’t believe our congress has read nor really studied the impact of this Health Reform Bill, much less the Preident.

    I am very disappointed in this Administration and its attitude toward the military. I was promised health care benefits upon joining the service years ago. Our health benefits should not be compromised.