NAUS report on Tricare and other things
Long but important info
This copied from the National Association of Uniformed Services weekly newsletter. The first quotation is an assumption that troops do as they are told regardless. True sometimes but when they are offered nothing they will not be there to complain. The General is whatever.
"Troops may complain about compensation and benefit cuts in the Defense Department's budget proposal, but they will accept them.”
~ Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey ~
Gen. Dempsey’s Quotation
NAUS was shocked when we heard the above statement from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Fortunately for our troops, both sides of the congressional aisle, NAUS and a united military community do not want to resolve our fiscal problems on the backs of our troops.
DoD Proposes Complete Revision of TRICARE
Just when you thought things could not get worse, the 2015 Budget rolled out and the DoD portion is a huge slap in the face to those who served and are serving. Once again DoD is attacking and proposing to drastically change TRICARE.
Once again proposals take aim at the benefits earned through career military service, in what seems all too often to be the “low hanging fruit” in Pentagon cost cutting. Military retirees and their families are the most often and most severely affected by these types of changes. The proposals also take a whack at increasing costs for families of active duty troops, which is just plain wrong.
In part, DoD wants to have TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra replaced by a single TRICARE plan with a fee structure adjusted due to where beneficiaries get medical care. The proposed $47.4 billion healthcare budget would consolidate TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra into a fee system that changes depending on where treatment is received whether in a Military Treatment Facility, in-network or out-of-network.
Pentagon officials say the plan to consolidate TRICARE is aimed at encouraging beneficiaries to seek care from military facilities or network providers—or pay more out of pocket.
The Pentagon proposal would also introduce add enrollment fees for future TRICARE for Life beneficiaries and increase prescription drug co-pays for nearly everyone who uses TRICARE’s retail or mail order pharmacy benefits.
“We will ask retirees and some active-duty family members to pay a little more in their deductibles and co-pays, but their benefits will remain affordable and generous … as they should be,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.
The plan calls for increased “participation fees” — currently called enrollment fees — for retirees and their family members, higher catastrophic caps and cost-shares determined by where the care is received.
Active-duty service members would continue to get care from military physicians or facilities at no charge. Their families also would see no change in their costs as long as they go to a military clinic or hospital for treatment.
But co-payments for primary care would rise for active-duty family members who get care from network providers, from zero now to $10 for family members of sponsors in paygrades E-4 and below, and to $15 for family members of sponsors in grades E-5 and above.
Fees also would be created or increased for specialty care, urgent care and emergency room visits, ranging from $20 to $50 depending on the sponsor’s rank and the type of visit.
The cost of out-of-network visits for active-duty family members would rise to 20 percent of the TRICARE allowable charge, up from the current 15 percent.
Retirees also would see changes, starting with enrollment fees: Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, annual enrollment fees would rise to $286 for an individual, up from $269, and to $572 for a family, up from $539.
Retirees also would begin making co-payments for services at military treatment facilities, ranging from $10 for a primary care visit to between $20 and $50 for specialty care, urgent care, emergency room and ambulatory surgery.
Visits to a network provider for retirees and family members would range from a $20 co-payment for primary care to $100 for a network ambulatory surgery visit. For all out-of-network care, retiree cost-shares would remain at 25 percent of the TRICARE allowable amount.
Deductibles for out-of-network care would rise for E-4 and below, to $100 for an individual from $50, and to $300 for a family from $150. For all others, the deductibles would rise to $300 for an individual from $150, and to $600 for a family from $300.
Catastrophic caps for active-duty families would rise to $1,500 for network or $2,500 for combined network and non-network visits, and for all others, to $3,000 for network and $5,000 combined.
And, reprising an idea it unsuccessfully floated last year, the Pentagon also wants to create new annual enrollment fees for TRICARE for Life retirees. Current TFL beneficiaries would not have to pay the fee, but new beneficiaries would pay enrollment fees based on a percentage of gross retired pay — 0.5 percent in 2015 — capped at $150 a year for a family and $200 for retired flag and general officers.
By 2019, TFL enrollees would pay a fee amounting to 2 percent of gross retired pay, up to a maximum of $614. Flag officers would pay up to $818 by 2019. Retirees in TFL also pay monthly Medicare Part B premiums.
Pharmacy costs would rise
One proposal that would touch all TRICARE users would be future hikes in co-pays for generic prescriptions purchased through retail pharmacies and increases in brand name drugs, both at retail pharmacies and by mail.
Prescriptions would continue to be filled free for everyone at military treatment facilities and generic drugs also would be available at no charge through TRICARE’s mail order system. Generics would continue to cost $5 at a retail pharmacy in 2015 but would rise to $6 in 2016.
Brand names would jump in 2015 to $26 per prescription, up from the current $17.
Medications not on the TRICARE formulary also would be tightly restricted; they currently cost $44 but would be available only on a limited basis starting in 2015.
Costs for mail order prescriptions would rise, to $16 from $13 for brand name medications. Unlike retail pharmacy prescriptions, medications filled by mail are for 90 days. Nonformulary medications would still be available by mail, with co-pays rising to $54 from the current $43.
According to Pentagon estimates, the average active-duty family of three accrues $11,459 in medical costs per year, with the military bearing $11,301 of the expense while the family picks up $158, or about 1.4 percent.
Under the new plan, families would bear 3.3 percent of the overall cost, which would drop to $10,952, accounting for flat health care costs and savings under consolidation.
A working-age retiree’s family of three accrues $14,813 in medical costs per year, according to DoD, and pays $1,378, or 9.3 percent of the cost. Under the plan, they would pay $1,526, or 10.8 percent, of the estimated $12,626 cost.
Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale said Tuesday if Congress does not approve the changes to compensation proposed in the budget plan — not only the Tricare changes, but also changes to housing allowances, basic pay raises, the commissary benefit and more — the Defense Department would see a $2.1 billion budget shortfall in fiscal 2015 that could grow to as much as $30 billion by 2024.
NAUS Note: There’s much more but we’ve given a taste of the damage. These are the official Administration proposals for health care. NAUS and the majority of veteran and military service organizations have successfully fought these types of plans for more than eight years. To reject them this time, we need your help. Let your elected officials hear your opposition. To see more detail on the Pentagon package for health care.
VVA Centered Regional Meeting
To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, VVA Chapter 892 - Kinston will be hosting a VVA centered meeting in Kinston At American Legion Post 43 on Saturday March 15 from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM.
Donations will be graciously accepted, but are not required.
An RSVP is requested so that we may prepare for all our guests.
Please pass the word!
McIntyre to Retire at End of Congressional Term
U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre released the following statement on his decision to retire at the end of this congressional term:
“In eastern North Carolina, we have demonstrated that public service is a partnership between the people and the representative they entrust to speak on their behalf.
“For us, this has been where the priorities of policy over politics, issues over ideology, dialogue over dollars, and cooperation over campaigning have prevailed.
“Having answered the call entrusted through this partnership, I will be retiring from the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of this term.
Congressmen confessed to not reading budget bill that cuts veteran pay
“[The House] moved it very quickly. It came out Tuesday, they voted Thursday and they were gone Thursday night,” retired Col. Mike Barron told The Daily Caller. Barron’s organization Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is now leading a charge on Capitol Hill to repeal the pension cuts. “Many members and their staff told us they were not given a chance to read the bill.”
Removal of Penalty for Breaking Appointments
AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs
SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amends its regulations to remove an outdated regulation that stated that a veteran who misses two medical appointments without providing 24 hours' notice and a reasonable excuse is deemed to have refused VA medical care. VA removes this penalty because we believe it is incompatible with regulatory changes implemented after the regulation was promulgated, is not in line with current practice, and is inconsistent with VA's patient-centered approach to medical care.
Linwood Lang Award
Each year, the North Carolina State Council requests applications from which candidates are selected for the Councils's highest award.
This award is presented for outstanding, exemplary service to veterans, and the community.
The purpose of the award is to recognize those members, Associates, or individuals, who have demonstrated a sincere commitment to ideals, mission and goals of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
NOTE: Earl Reece will be unavailable until 3 January 2014. The person to reach regarding the Linwood Lang Award is Liz Cannon:
Nominations should be sent to Liz at 7449 Pitt St, Grimesland, NC 27837, and must be postmarked no later than 31 December 2013.