Keeping fees means cutting force

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If Congress blocks Defense Department plans to raise TRICARE fees for military retirees and beneficiary co-pays on drug prescriptions filled off base, the services will have to make even deeper cuts in force strength than now planned, the military’s top health official told lawmakers last week. “Given the constraints of the Budget Control Act, if […]

Budget may raise TRICARE costs

Out-of-pocket health care costs for military retirees and for users of the TRICARE retail pharmacy network would jump next October if Congress approves President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request delivered last week. Annual active duty pay raises also would be impacted but not until January 2015 when raise caps would begin and last three years. […]

Club notes — April 17

Curry County Association Curry County Association of Educational Retirees met April 4 at Furr’s. The meeting was opened with prayer and pledges to the American flag and the New Mexico flag. Dianne Davis introduced Rebecca Reid-Carlyle, who gave a program on reverse mortgages. The reverse mortgage plan was explained step by step and who is […]

Advisory panels: Military benefits unsustainable

By Tom Philpott: Military Update A consensus is building among current and former military leaders and defense industry executives that rising military personnel costs threaten the viability of the all-volunteer force. In July, two separate advisory groups reached the same general conclusions regarding what needs to be done to sustain the force. In the nearer […]

Panel told not to cut vet benefits

Advocates for military retirees and veterans urged a bipartisan commission studying ways to end runaway budget deficits not to lump military-earned benefits in with other entitlements eyed for cost controls. “There’s a fundamental difference between social insurance programs open to every American and military benefits earned by decades of service and sacrifice,” Steve Strobridge, director […]

Influencing TRICARE option barred

Civilian employers of military retirees once again can offer a TRICARE supplemental plan with their cafeteria-style health insurance options so that workers who elect to use their TRICARE Standard benefit can buy coverage conveniently and with pre-taxed dollars. The change took effect June 18 under a final rule published by the Department of Defense that […]

Home delivery of pharmacy benefits saves money

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Military retirees and families will save themselves some cash — and save TRICARE a whole lot of money — by using their “home delivery” pharmacy benefit instead of filling prescriptions at TRICARE retail outlets. Pharmacy officials are doing whatever they can to drive that message home to 7.5 million users […]

TRICARE increase stuns retirees

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Defense health officials didn’t do the Obama administration any favor last week when they announced a “small” increase in the daily fee that military retirees under 65, their families and covered survivors must pay for inpatient care in civilian hospitals under TRICARE Standard starting Oct. 1. The jump, in fact, […]

Oil prices bury retiree allowance

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist It was higher oil prices last year that led to the largest annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to federal entitlements since 1982. Good thing, too. Lowered oil prices since then are almost certain to block any COLA this year for military retirees, federal civilian retirees, Social Security recipients, survivor benefit annuitants […]

Another gaffe in retro pay project

By Tom Philpott: Syndicated columnist As many as 39,000 disabled military retirees have been left out of the VA Retro Pay program by mistake, say officials at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) who are calculating the amount of money owed. This latest and perhaps most serious gaffe in the problem-plagued VA Retro Pay […]