Military active duty, retirees, veterans and families
United States of America

For years, the military community has endured the broken promise of health care for life in return for turning over life and liberty in service to country. While military services recruited with promises of health care for life in exchange for 20 years or more of service, courts and Congress itself has consistently argued they had no legal right to do so. Private corporations and companies would never be able to get away with this fraud or material misrepresentation.

Every two years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) presents daring suggestions to Congress and the administration to help control federal spending. This year’s study was led by Peter R. Orszag, President-elect Obama’s pick to head the CBO.

Among 115 options presented, but not necessarily endorsed, by Orszag are several focusing on raising Tricare out of pocket costs for retirees and families. Others affect veterans with no service-connected conditions tightening access to VA hospitals and clinics, or raising VA health fees. Many of the options presented are familiar Bush administration-endorsed cost-saving ideas raising Tricare fees, co-payments and deductibles for retirees under age 62 and their spouses. But there are new ones raising health costs for Medicare-eligible military retirees and for active duty families.

Here are some options that would touch military people and veterans:
TRICARE for Working-Age Retirees – Fees, co-payments and deductibles would be raised for retirees under 62.
Fees for Active Duty Families – Dependents of active duty members enrolled in TRICARE Prime, would pay new fees equal to 10 percent of the cost of health services.
TRICARE-For-Life Fees – The military's health insurance supplement to Medicare could see higher user costs.
Tighten VA Enrollment – The VA healthcare system would be directed to disenroll 2.3 million Priority Groups 7 and 8.

Congress has declined to support increases like these for the last three years. They need to hear from constituents encouraging continuation of that posture. Please sign the attached petition and don’t hesitate to contact your local congressional representatives.

Background information:
An article summarizing the options can be found on Military.Com: http://www.military.com/veterans-report/retirees-vets-eyed-for-health-cost-cuts?ESRC=vr.nl

Facts can be found in this handbook, Budget Options, Volume 1 from the Congressional Budget Office. It is a lengthy download. A high speed connection is recommended:

A word search on "tricare" takes you quickly to the part that applies or select:

Option 95. Increase Health Care Cost Sharing for Family Members of Active-Duty Military Personnel, page 173
Option 96. Introduce Minimum Out-of-Pocket Requirements Under TRICARE For Life, page 175
Option 97. Increase Medical Cost Sharing for Military Retirees Who Are Not Yet Eligible for Medicare, page 176
Option 98. Require Copayments for Medical Care Provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to Enrollees Without a Service-Connected Disability, page 178
A legal look at the history of the “free healthcare for life” issue:

Dear Speaker of the House Pelosi,

“Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism. Because America's commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end.”
Barack Obama, July 3, 2008, Fargo, North Dakota

Five months later the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), led by Obama point man Peter Orszag, suggested a number of cost saving options negatively impacting the military community’s healthcare. While we understand the need to cut costs in this time of economic crises, it is our belief that those who have faithfully served is one of the last places to look for cuts, not first.

Therefore, we seek:

--recognition that the rise in co-payments and deductibles for retirees under 62, many doubled or more, in the name of cost parity is counter to keeping faith with those who serve(d)

--recognition that asking active duty dependents to pay new fees equal to 10 percent of the cost of health services in the face of an increase in the number of military households qualifying for ADC is counter keeping faith with those who serve(d)

--recognition that pushing military family members to seek alternate health insurance leaving them vulnerable in case of a military move is counter to keeping faith with those who serve(d)

--recognition that disenrolling 2.3 million veterans from VA healthcare is counter to keeping faith with those whoserve(d)

In the past three years, Congress has blocked Bush Administration efforts to further deteriorate active duty/ retirees/ veterans and their families’ healthcare services. But they are facing an economic crisis unlike any they’ve faced thus far. Congress and the Obama administration need to stand together in keeping faith with those who serve(d).

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The Do Not Raise Military Community Healthcare Costs petition to Military active duty, retirees, veterans and families was written by San Antonio Blue Star Voices and is in the category Military at GoPetition.