Obama Administration Proposes Slashing Health Care Benefits for Military
January 26, 2013 - 2:07 pm
Congress won’t let him get away with this, but it is indicative of how seriously the administration is out to corral as many people as possible and put them in Obamacare insurance exchanges.
The 2013 defense budget will force active duty and retired military to pay more for their health insurance. Gallingly, unionized civilian defense workers will not suffer the same fate.
The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.
Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.
“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”
Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Just how much more does the administration want our retired and active duty soldiers to pay?
Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.
Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.
According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.
The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.
Not very subtle, are they?
As the 2014 date approaches when Obamacare will be implemented, the administration may be worried that not enough new insureds will be added to the pool, thus continuing to drive the cost of health care through the roof. Forcing a couple of million retirees and active duty military to abandon Tricare for Obamacare or Medicare is one card they can play.