No Joy for Retirees:

The Congressionally chartered Task Force on the Future of Military Healthcare has released its final report, and the news is not good for those opposed to an increase in fees paid by military retirees who use Tricare. Among the recommendations included in this 204-page report, is one that calls for “phased-in changes in enrollment fees and deductibles for retirees under 65 that restore cost-sharing relationships put in place when Tricare was created.” Congress—and retirees—has opposed attempts by DOD to raise Tricare fees, and lawmakers rejected the latest effort in the 2008 defense budget request. The task force invokes not only the spiraling cost cited by Pentagon officials, but also the specter of improved care and improved accountability. As a bottom line, the task force notes, “The current cost-sharing provisions run so counter to broad trends in US health care that they produce an increasing burden in terms of costs to US taxpayers.” The task force advocates a “tiered” approach for raising fees. And, it suggests that Tricare for Life participants, those retirees eligible for Medicare, should also pay a “modest enrollment fee” as a means “to foster personal accountability.”