Unsurprisingly, no one happy with TRICARE fee increases
Well, color me unsurprised. You mean retroactively changing a contract after one party has fully performed isn't uniformly appreciated?
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The department which overseas retirement benefits for some veterans has proposed a 400 percent premium increase for enrollees over the next five years.
"We feel like some of that is to try to defer the cost of healthcare for the army and the military services and that's not what the healthcare system is set up for, nor the VA system," said Commander Glen Minor of the American Legion Department of Arkansas.
Under the plan officials said veterans would be divided into three tiers.
Tricare, the department which oversee the benefit, released the following concerning the three tiers:
"From FY2013 - 2016, the proposed enrollment fee increases for working age retirees are phased in. The proposed changes include a tiered fee structure based on an individual retiree's pension payment. Retirees in the Tier One category (pensions between $0 - $22,589) will have TRICARE Prime enrollment fees increase from the current annual fee of $520 to $600, or less than $7 per month in 2013. This group constitutes almost 50 percent of the eligible retiree families. Retirees in the Tier Two category (pensions between $22,590 - $45,178), constituting about 38 percent of the population, will have Prime enrollment fees increase from $520 to $720, a $200 increase, or about $17 per month. Retirees in Tier Three ($45,179 and above), constituting about 12 percent of the population, will have Prime enrollment fees increase from $520 to $820, or an increase of $25 per month.
Here's part of the video on it, where our Commander there does an outstanding job:
Members of a key Senate panel warned Pentagon officials Wednesday of a looming, lengthy debate on the Defense Department’s proposal to raise Tricare fees for military retirees, saying the increases unfairly target those who devoted their careers to the armed forces.
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., a former Marine and current chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, said the proposal reneges on an obligation established when the nation’s volunteer forces signed up.
“You can’t renegotiate the front end once the back end is done,” Webb said. “You’re changing someone’s contract after the contract has been signed.”
The DoD has been trying to pull this same maneuver for years, and it's never worked before either. The real reason they do it though is because the budget numbers are based on what the Administration proposes. So, when the Congressional Budget Office "scores" the budget, it will include all of the revenue from raising these fees, and then Congress will not allow them. This allows the Administration to claim a lower figure on the budget, and then Congress to declare to all veterans that they blocked the fee increases. From their points of view, it is win-win.
Something needs to change in order to keep this from happening each year, but I'm not bright enough to propose a solution that would get through Congress. Either way, it's a dodge on the part of both branches of Gov't.
Either way, rest assured that we will be there fighting it every year this hare-brained scheme makes it's reappearance.