The Stars & Stripes has an update on the fight to increase Tricare fees for retired military personnel:
Older retirees like Air Force Master Sgt. Floyd Sears, 81, stand shoulder to shoulder with younger generations of retirees in opposing any of the higher fees being proposed for hard earned Tricare benefits.
But Sears also agrees with many retirees of his own generation that there’s something especially wrong with the Obama administration’s plan to impose a first-ever enrollment fee on 900,000 retirees age 65 and older and their surviving spouses.
The oldest among them entered service in World War II or during the Korean War. Some completed careers with tours in Vietnam. This older generation of retirees truly was promised free health care for life, routinely as they reenlisted, if they would serve at least 20-year careers.
“I was in Strategic Air Command and even heard [SAC Commander] Gen. Curtis E. LeMay say it. The words came right out of his mouth,” Sears recalled from his apartment in the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss., where monthly fees charged residents are based on income.
That promise of “free care” is why these retirees fought in federal court and in Congress, aggressively in the 1990s, to have the government acknowledge it and keep it. Even as the court fight was being lost, Congress by 2001 had approved Tricare for Life (TFL), designed to be a cost-free insurance supplement to Medicare for older retirees if they agreed to pay – or in most cases, to continue to pay – their Medicare Part B premiums.
Given that history, Sears and other elderly retirees were surprised to see a new TFL enrollment fee proposed in February as part of multi-prong initiative endorsed by military leaders to slow the growth of health costs.
“It’s just a slap in the face,” said Sears who retired in 1971 and receives $1789 a month in military retirement. “It’s an insult, a real insult, that we would get pushed around like that.”
The TLF fee, if Congress were to agree to it, would be “tiered” based on level of retired pay. Retirees who draw less than $22,590 a year in military retired pay would pay $35 to enroll in TFL for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The fee would climb annually to reach $150 by 2016. Thereafter it would be adjusted yearly to keep pace with the percentage rise in nationwide health care costs.
Tier 2 retirees, with retired pay from $22,590 to $45,178 a year, would see an initial fee of $75. That would rise incrementally to reach $300 by 2016. Tier 3 retirees, those with retired pay in excess of $45,178, would pay a $115 next October and $450 a year by 2016. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read more at the link but the sense I get talking to retirees is not so much that they can’t pay the increased Tricare fees, it is that they don’t see anyone else making sacrifices as well to balance the government’s budget and instead see many other people expecting more hand outs. But, maybe I’m wrong so military retirees what do you think about the proposed increased Tricare fees?