Adequate medical program needed

By Anita Doberman: CNJ Columnist I wish that I had something good to say about my experience with Tricare and military medicine, but today I don’t. While I am fully aware that there are plenty of excellent physicians and medical professionals who do a great job taking care of their patients, I feel disappointed and […]

Military update: Panel OKs multiple military measures

By Tom Philpott: Syndicated columnist Military people next January would get a 3.5 percent pay raise, under a compensation package voted Wednesday by the House Armed Services’ subcommittee on military personnel. In shaping the personnel section of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill, the subcommittee approved other initiatives to please health-care beneficiaries, surviving spouses and […]

Unsponsored families don’t get TRICARE

By Tom Philpott: Military Update In decades past, the U.S. military discouraged family members from joining loved ones on “unaccompanied” year-long tours to places like South Korea, Okinawa, Guam and more remote tours in “Cold War” Europe. “Non-command sponsored” dependents who traveled to these assignments often were seen as a distraction and strain on support […]

Drug lobby, White House resist TRICARE rebates

By Tom Philpott: Military Update As the Justice Department prepares to battle drug manufacturers in court to win what U.S. lawyers say are long overdue price rebates for the TRICARE retail pharmacy network, the White House quietly is pressuring Congress not to pass legislation that would support the cause. Bush administration politicos, in effect, have […]

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 […]

Initiative would improve health benefit

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Every drilling reservist and National Guard member would have access to a military health plan for a reasonable monthly premium under an initiative endorsed last week by the House Armed Services Committee. The improved TRICARE Reserve Select benefit, which senior Defense officials oppose as too expensive, would take effect in […]

House panel votes to block cost-shares

By Tom Philpott: Military Update A House panel has voted to block for at least two years any increases in TRICARE beneficiary cost-shares. It’s the first formal step by Congress to derail the Bush administration’s plan to raise fees, co-payments and deductibles for military retirees under age 65 and their families. The armed services subcommittee […]

Shift in funding could relieve pressure

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Joint Chiefs support a sharp rise in TRICARE fees for under-65 retirees and their families, they say, because retiree health costs are soaking up dollars needed to buy new weapons and sustain force readiness. The problem they describe is real but their solution is flawed, says Dov S. Zakheim, […]

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, […]

Military update: Campaign targets mail-order drug usage

By Tom Phllpott: Last year, only 6 percent of 6.6 million military beneficiaries with prescriptions to fill used the low-cost TRICARE Mail Order Program. By contrast, 51 percent had at least one prescription filled through TRICARE’s more costly retail network. The rising popularity of the retail drug benefit versus near “flat line” usage of mail […]

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, […]

Health-care coverage changes disputed

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Bush administration, in its fiscal 2007 defense budget, unveiled its plan to raise TRICARE fees and deductibles for military retirees under age 65 and their dependents. Co-payments in the TRICARE retail pharmacy network also would climb, but for all beneficiaries except those on active duty. Marine Corps Gen. Peter […]

Some medical benefits moving online

Tom Philpott: Military Update Every month, about 400,000 users of the military’s retail pharmacy network — those who have other health insurance — have to file paper claims with TRICARE to be reimbursed for co-payments and other costs incurred that their primary insurance won’t cover. The paper hassle is about to end, said Navy Cmdr. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Military health spending to be slowed

Tom Philpott: Military Update Congress will worsen a near crisis of runaway military health care costs if it enacts a Senate-backed provision to open the new TRICARE Reserve Select program to all drilling Reserve and National Guard members, the Defense Department’s top health official has warned. In testimony before a House subcommittee, Dr. William Winkenwerder […]

Enormous health care costs needs revisiting

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate armed services subcommittee on military personnel, says he will be “adamant’’ during negotiations with House conferees on a final defense authorization bill that it include his Senate-approved amendment to open a premium-based military health insurance plan to any drilling reservist or National […]