February 1, 2011  

Tricare reality check

TO THE MILITARY OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA for its predictable but nonetheless unrealistic response to proposed military health care reforms as part of the new defense budget cuts.

In his plan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the fiscal 2012 budget will propose reforms in military heath care that will include modest increases to Tricare fees for working-age retirees.

MOAA reacted by saying that if those increases are in the $1,000- to $2,000-per-year range, as previously proposed, they would fall “well outside the accepted meaning of the term” modest. Among its 2011 legislative goals, MOAA pledges to protect against disproportional increases in Tricare fees.

Health care reform will likely remain the most sensitive area for the Pentagon to navigate as it charts the rough waters of budget cuts and reform.

Nevertheless, just as the defense budget is not exempt in these fiscally perilous times, despite the ongoing wars, so the Tricare program can no longer be fenced off from reality. Tricare enrollment fees have not been raised since 1995; they cost a fraction of comparable health insurance programs outside the military and encourage people to choose Tricare over their employee’s programs. That makes no sense and is of no benefit to active serving troops, for whom the $7 billion in potential savings that health care reforms offer will be critical.