Lautenberg Introduces Bill To Cap Health Insurance Fees For Military Retirees

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation that would place caps on health insurance enrollment fees, deductibles, and pharmacy co-payments for military retirees enrolled in the Department of Defense’s TRICARE system. The bill would aid nine million beneficiaries in the military health care system.

“A tough fiscal climate is no excuse to balance the budget on the backs of our nation’s military retirees and their families,” said Lautenberg, an Army veteran. “Those Americans who serve in our military do so much to protect us—the least we can do is protect them against excessive health care costs. Our bill will protect veterans from unfair health care fee hikes and help guarantee that health services are affordable for those who served and sacrificed to keep our country safe.”

“This bill would give veterans on TRICARE greater assurances that their costs will not spiral out of control beyond their means to pay for them. Military retirees who rely on fixed incomes usually don’t have the ability to go out and find new jobs to pay for increased TRICARE costs. This effort will bring more predictability to help them budget for their health care needs,” Rubio said.

The Lautenberg-Rubio “Military Health Care Protection Act of 2012” would establish that the percentage of increase in certain military health care fees in any given year cannot exceed the percentage of increase in military retired pay. The bill is supported by 21 military and veteran groups, including: Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), American Legion, Fleet Reserve Association, and the National Military Family Association (NMFA).

The Pentagon’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2013 shifts billions in costs to TRICARE beneficiaries over 10 years by increasing certain TRICARE fees as well as establishing new fees. Similar fee increases were also requested under the Bush Administration in Fiscal Years 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Specifically, the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request seeks to:

  • Significantly raise annual health care fees for retired families;
  • Establish new enrollment fees for beneficiaries under certain TRICARE plans;
  • More than double certain pharmacy copays for all TRICARE beneficiaries; and
  • Tie future increases to a health cost index that will rapidly increase costs (est. 6.5% per year annual growth).

“We’re grateful for Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. Rubio’s leadership in introducing this bill to protect uniformed services beneficiaries from dramatic fee increases for their military TRICARE coverage,” said Vice Admiral Norb Ryan, Jr. (USN-Ret), President of the Military Officers Association of America. “Repeated proposals to raise their healthcare fees by up to $2,000 a year have been extremely unsettling to the military community. Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. Rubio’s bill would restore a much-needed sense of stability for this core career retention incentive.”

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