Stopping Those Tricare Hikes, for Now

Congress appears poised once again to stop the Bush Administration’s attempt to raise Tricare fees for military retirees. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the 2009 defense authorization bill restores $1.2 billion to the defense health program, as does the House Armed Services military personnel panel (the full House committee has yet to conclude its markup). However, Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services military personnel panel, in a May 7 statement, notes, “While we prohibit a fee increase this year, it is unclear that we will be able to continue to sustain prohibitions on health care fees in the future.” Congress will have stymied a Tricare fee hike for five straight years, but most analysts believe that an increase is inevitable given the high cost of health care. However, Davis maintains that the Pentagon should not “focus solely on military retirees” as a means to fix Tricare funding issues. She says that DOD in its current proposals “fails to address other cost drivers within the system.”