Guest post by Investors Business Daily
Being used as photo-ops for presidential speeches and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for your country apparently does not exempt our troops from the rising health care premiums that President Obama said, along with sea levels, would not rise under his administration. The next time a soldier hears "give me 50," it might be dollars and not push-ups.
The White House has threatened to veto the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act in part because it does not increase premiums and co-pays associated with Tricare, the Pentagon's in-house health system, and because it proposes a 1.8% pay increase instead of the 1% the administration demands.
Tricare, according to its website, "is the health care program serving Uniformed Service members, retirees and their families worldwide." As the administration pushes for higher health care costs for military personnel, the benefits of unionized civilian defense workers remain unscathed.
As the Navy Times reports, the president's proposal includes a freeze for 2014 for Medicare-eligible retirees in the Tricare for Life program; but there would be rapid increases over the following years, with annual hikes of $150 in maximum fees for most retirees and $200 for flag officers. For flag and general officers, annual enrollment fees for family coverage would be $900 in 2014, then more than double to $1,840 in 2018.
The current deductible is $150 for individuals and $300 for families. In 2014, deductibles would jump to $160 for individuals and $320 for families, then would rise another $40 for individuals and $80 for families in 2015.
From 2016 through 2018, the deductible would increase by another $30 a year for individuals and $60 a year for families.
The 1.8% pay increase is the percentage that would be required in order for military pay to keep pace with average private-sector wage growth. The administration's proposed smaller increase would be the first military raise in more than a decade that failed to keep pace with the private sector.
"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. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon after an earlier round of Tricare cost increases. "We can't keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more."
The White House statement threatening a veto reads: "The projected FY 2014 TRICARE savings of $902 million and $9.3 billion through FY 2018 are essential for DOD to successfully address rising personnel costs."
Yet in 2012 it was revealed that Tricare was running a $708 million surplus. Instead of leaving the money where it was, the Department of Defense sought to transfer the surplus to other programs.
Some critics believe that as with private sector insurance, this is an administration attempt to increase costs and force military personnel and retirees out of the Tricare system and into ObamaCare's insurance exchanges.
"When they (administration officials) talked to us, they did mention the option of health care exchanges under ObamaCare. So it's in their mind," a congressional aide involved in the issue told the Beacon.
For those who have served their country in uniform, the country owes them a great debt. Their commander in chief seemingly wants to put them deeper in debt. At the American Legion convention in August 2011, Obama said that "we cannot, we must not and we will not balance the budget on the backs of veterans."
Yet the administration's proposed Tricare increases and pay proposal is just that, an attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our veterans.
Source: Investors Business Daily