On September 19, President Obama unveiled his plan for economic growth and deficit reduction. Part of the President’s plan, which the White House asserts will fully fund the Americans Job Act, were several suggested changes to the cost and structure of military retirement benefits. The President's plan calls for the following:
1) Introducing “modest” annual fees for TRICARE For Life, beginning with a $200 annual fee in FY 2013 and would be increased annually thereafter.
2) Adjusting TRICARE pharmacy co-payments to closer parity with Federal employee health plans by shifting retail pharmacy from dollar co-payments to a percentage co-payments, starting at 10 percent for generic drugs and increasing to 20 percent. Brand name and non-formulary drugs would start with a 15 percent copayment and would rise to 30 percent over time. Mail order generics would be free, but brand drugs would increase a $20 dollars co-payment and $35 for non-formulary, with each increasing to a $40 co-payment.
3) Establishing a commission to modernize military retirement benefits. Recommendation would follow a BRAC process, where the Congress could either accept or reject the suggested changes.
ROA responded by sending the White House its concerns over these recommendations, and later participated in a White House teleconference intended to detail these recommendations. Let’s just say that the military and veterans associations that participated in the call did not receive these recommendations warmly.
It should be remembered that the White House may send legislation to Capitol Hill, but Congress must still accept these suggestions and pass them into law, before any change will occur. So while these suggestions should spark the interest of all military retirees, they are far from certain.
ROA will work to sustain the current benefits as outlined National Resolution 10-29 . We will continue to advocate diligently against dangerous cuts to defense spending as well as any cost saving proposals which fail to adequately compensate or otherwise provide for the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform and the burdens borne by their families. As ROA learns more, information will be shared with ROA membership.