Back payments doled out to retirees

By Tom Philpott: Military Update A small group of disabled military retirees this month will be the first of 133,000 to receive lump-sum back payments, which are tied to start-up challenges for two “concurrent receipt” programs enacted since 2003. That’s according to officials with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The trickle of back […]

Military back pay cost will be shared

By Tom Philpott: Military update The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have worked out a plan for sharing the cost and the task of delivering about $500 million in back pay to more than 100,000 military retirees with VA rated disabilities. The retroactive payments are owed to nearly half of all recipients of Combat-Related […]

Retirees hoping for back pay

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Retired Army Staff Sgt. Daniel F. Purinton, 71, has argued for almost two years that the Department of Veterans Affairs owes him an additional $8,044. Purinton said the underpayment occurred as Department of Defense and VA officials implemented a complex series of laws, starting in 2003, to end for many […]

Lawmakers should listen to soldiers

Tom Philpott: military columnist The Bush administration continues to sound an alarm over rising military personnel costs from steady gains in pay and benefits voted by the Congress, including more new initiatives in the 2007 defense budget bill. But Congress shows no sign of heeding the alarm, not while U.S. forces “stay the course” in […]

Officials wrangle over health care change

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Ignoring the intimidating props — boxes of angry letters from thousands of military retirees — senior Defense officials and military leaders appeared last week before a contentious House subcommittee to make their case for hiking TRICARE fees sharply for under-65 retirees and their families. In the verbal sparring that ensued, […]

Lawmakers moving to block fee increase

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Influential lawmakers are moving to block for at least a year the Defense Department’s plan to raise TRICARE fees, co-payments and deductibles for military retirees under age 65 and their family members. Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., chairman of the House armed services subcommittee on military personnel, and his Senate counterpart, […]

Cannon pharmacy keeps meds on the move

Airman 1st Class Charles John, Cannon pharmacy, demonstrates how pharmacists and technicians use recipes to “cook” on the job. Janet Taylor-Birkey On this day, more than 210 prescriptions wait to be filled by the Component Health Care System (CHCS), a computer system for prescriptions at the Cannon pharmacy, and the clinic staff have not seen […]

Officials planning health-care changes

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Senior defense officials characterized the military health benefit as “extremely rich” during a Wednesday meeting with service association representatives over plans to raise retirees’ TRICARE fees. Officials requested the meeting, say attendees, to explain to The Military Coalition, an umbrella group of three dozen military and veterans groups, why the […]

Savings under health plan overestimated

By Tom Philpott: Military Update At least a few Pentagon analysts believe the Bush administration will face a new credibility challenge if TRICARE officials tell Congress, as they have the Joint Chiefs, that plans to raise TRICARE fees and deductibles for under-age 65 retirees and their families will save $25 billion over nine years. “Somebody […]

Miliarty Digest: Health insurance bump on way

By Tom Philpott Alarmed that soaring health care costs are crimping budget dollars for higher-priority defense programs, the Joint Chiefs intend to endorse the Defense Department’s plan to raise TRICARE fees sharply over the next three years for retirees under 65 and their families, say senior military officers. One officer described a likely scenario, early […]

Defense bill aims to strengthen recruiting

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Congress has passed a 2006 defense authorization bill that focuses its personnel initiatives on new and improved tools to strengthen recruiting and retention and to help reshape the current force. The final bill leaves behind a host of Senate-passed initiatives to enhance entitlements for military survivors, reservists and disabled retirees. […]

Angry retirees echo complaints of ’90s

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Military retirees under age 65 learned in this column last week they could face sharply higher healthcare costs under a plan by senior Defense officials that would at least double TRICARE fees by 2008. The plan would also tie future fee increases to the annual percentage rise in healthcare costs […]

Officials ready to raise enrollment fees

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Defense Department officials have drafted plans to raise TRICARE enrollment fees and deductibles sharply over the next three years for military retirees under age 65 and their families, about 3 million beneficiaries. If the changes touted by senior Defense officials are adopted, annual enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime, the military’s […]

Retirees getting second chance at program

By Tom Philpott: Military Update More than 800,000 military retirees who declined the Survivor Benefit Plan at retirement will get another chance to buy into a much-improved program, starting this fall. But delayed enrollment won’t be cheap, particularly for retirees who left service during the last six years. Congress voted last year not only to […]

Medical plan changes on way for bases

By Tom Philpott More than 128,000 military beneficiaries taking Viagra or Cialis for erectile dysfunction likely will have to switch this fall to Levitra or face higher co-payments on their prescriptions. The Defense Department’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee will recommend in mid-July that Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., the Pentagon’s top health official, narrow the field […]

Military health care costs still rising

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Defense Department officials say it’s time users of military health care pay a greater share of rising medical costs, perhaps through higher co-payments and enrollment fees that haven’t been raised since TRICARE, the military’s managed care program, began a decade ago. In an interview, Dr. William Winkenwerder, Jr., assistant secretary […]

Plan adopted to study retirement changes

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation has adopted an “action plan” to study private-sector-like changes to military pay and retirement, the kind that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has endorsed for several years. The committee of seven “eminent authorities in the fields of compensation,” as described by the department, adopted […]

Retired educators reminisce at social event

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Recent and long-time retired educators reminisce over cake and punch Sunday during a social event put on by the Curry County Association of Educational Retirees at the Holiday Inn. (Staff photo: David Irvin) By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer Jackye Alexander hadn’t been working long in Clovis schools when she met a despondent 9-year-old student […]

BRAC could spark small retiree migration

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Sometime between now and May 16, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will release a list of military bases the department wants closed, labeling them unneeded infrastructure that waste billions of dollars annually. Community leaders in affected areas will express shock and anger. Paid lobbyists will begin pumping out reasons why a […]

Veterans Affairs budget ‘less friendly’

By Tom Philpott In years past, Bush administration proposals to charge low-priority VA healthcare users a $250 annual enrollment fee and higher co-payments on prescription drugs were declared dead on arrival on Capitol Hill. Not this year. The initiatives, to boost VA revenues by $424 million, appear to have survived a first vigorous round of […]