Military health care costs still rising

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Defense Department officials say it’s time users of military health care pay a greater share of rising medical costs, perhaps through higher co-payments and enrollment fees that haven’t been raised since TRICARE, the military’s managed care program, began a decade ago. In an interview, Dr. William Winkenwerder, Jr., assistant secretary […]

Plan adopted to study retirement changes

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation has adopted an “action plan” to study private-sector-like changes to military pay and retirement, the kind that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has endorsed for several years. The committee of seven “eminent authorities in the fields of compensation,” as described by the department, adopted […]

Committee votes to open ‘tricare select’

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The House Armed Services Committee has voted 32-30 to open the new TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) program to any drilling reservist or National Guard member willing to pay the premiums, now set at $75 a month for member-only coverage or $233 for family coverage. An unprecedented fulltime health plan for […]

Better benefits could be on way

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Three weeks before the TRICARE Reserve Select program begins, a key senator predicts Congress this year will embrace his plan to offer even better healthcare benefits to drilling Reserve and National Guard members. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., new chairman of the Senate armed services’ subcommittee on military personnel, described as […]

Committees to impose enrollment fee

by Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Republican majorities on the House and Senate veterans’ affairs committees have voted to impose an enrollment fee of at least $230 a year on 2.4 million veterans — one of every three now eligible to use VA healthcare. Those targeted are in priority categories 7 and 8, meaning they are […]

Health insurance will cost reservists

Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Thirty years ago, Congress decided the nation could no longer afford to offer military volunteers a robust draft-era GI Bill, so it concocted VEAP, the most unpopular veterans’ education benefit of the last century. Last year Congress decided the nation couldn’t afford to open active duty TRICARE benefits to all drilling […]

Recent benefits update was needed

by Tom Philpott Military survivor benefits for 270,000 elderly recipients, and the future value of the Survivor Benefit Plan for all beneficiaries, will begin to rise next October when the first of four special pay hikes takes effect. When the last one occurs, in April 2008, SBP annuities for older beneficiaries will have returned to […]

TRICARE contract plus for Standard users

Tom Philpott Military healthcare beneficiaries will be mailed information packets this year, explaining benefits under TRICARE, the triple-option health plan. The mailing will coincide with the June-through-November phase-in of new TRICARE support contracts, which will merge 11 stateside TRICARE regions into three, require all contractors to operate under the same rules and set contractor performance […]

Take advantage of new health benefits

By Tom Phillpott: Military Update activated reservists, have left thousands of reserve families unable to take full advantage yet of some new pre- and post-mobilization healthcare benefits. The unusual circumstances have TRICARE officials advising reservists to save medical receipts, explanations of benefits and other documents that could be useful weeks or months from now in […]

Pentagon rejects raising retiree drug costs, for now

Tom Philpott Defense Department officials have defeated a White House budget initiative that would have raised prescription fees for military retirees, their spouses and survivors next October. The plan included imposing first-ever co-payments on retiree prescriptions filled at base pharmacies. Higher pharmacy fees remain a possibility by October 2005. The Office of Management and Budget’s […]

TRICARE may become available to reservists

Tom Philpott o Critics say move too costly, won’t solve problems. Dr. William Winkenwerder, the Defense Department’s top health official, has a task force working to implement healthcare gains for reserve and National Guard forces that Congress approved this month. That includes opening TRICARE, on a cost-share basis, to non-mobilized reservists who are unemployed or […]

Congress making extra effort

Tom Philpott The more difficult U.S. operations become in Iraq, the more conscientious Congress becomes in addressing weaknesses and inequities in military pay and benefits programs — or so it seems. Three days after insurgents downed an Army helicopter, killing 15 U.S. soldiers and injuring 21, Congress passed tax relief legislation for military families. Two […]

Benefits last for retirees

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Doy Mick, beneficiary services representative at Cannon Air Force Base for Triwest Healthcare, explains health care benefits for military retirees. Darrell Todd Maurina With an estimated 2,600 military retirees within a 100-mile radius, many Cannon Air Force Base facilities serve not only the base’s active-duty population but also those who retired from the service. Those […]