Gates: Health care needs overhaul

By Tom Philpott: FNM columnist

Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ prescription for what ails the military health care system includes replacing aging hospitals, and raising TRICARE fees for working-age retirees, which Congress has kept frozen since 1995.

“Health care is eating the (Defense) Department alive,” Gates told officers attending the Air War College on Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., following a speech on the budget there last week.

The defense chief is visiting each service war college to explain in more depth plans for “rebalancing” defense spending, starting with the fiscal 2010 budget request to be sent to Congress soon.