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, […]

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 […]