The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, is making the rounds talking about his proposed FY2012 budget. Although currently light on details, the news seems good for military pay and benefits, but, not-so-good for military retirees who rely on TRICARE.
Military Pay and Benefits – Defense Secretary Gates plans to cut troops in order to cut costs. The troop level cuts are not to start until 2015, but this does reflect Gates’ earlier statements about looking at cutting troops before cutting pay and benefits.
TRICARE – On the other hand, Sec. Gates has stated that he is seeking changes to the military’s TRICARE medical program, noting that fees have not risen since the program replaced CHAMPUS in 1995. He said he is proposing modest increases to fees for working-age military retirees.
According to TRICARE the per beneficiary cost for their major programs break out as follows:
- TRICARE Prime, the managed-care option that covers all active-duty members and many retirees, costs the government $4,202 per beneficiary per year.
- TRICARE Standard, the program’s fee-for-service plan, costs $3,584 per beneficiary per year.
- TRICARE for Life, for beneficiaries age 65 and older, costs the government $3,874 per patient per year.
Gates has continuously sought TRICARE fee increases for retirees as means of addressing military health care costs. It appears he is determined to get it done before he leaves office. This idea always draws heavy fire from military retirees, but it seems that something will be done one way or another.
It is hard to argue that something shouldn’t be done, but are targeted fee increases the DoD’s only option? Be part of the discussion here and directly with Congress and the DoD. Use our Legislative alert tool to reach your elected and appointed officials.
Read more about the proposed changes to TRICARE and other DoD budget cuts.