Proposed senate changes to Tricare to cost retirees thousands

Eric Dehm
June 14, 2018 - 3:18 pm

U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel, Naval Hospital Jacksonville/Released

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When it was announced that changes would be coming to TRICARE for those joining the military after Jan 1, 2018 it was also communicated that those who joined prior to that date would be exempt from new additional costs like annual enrollment. That exemption may prove to be short lived. 

There are significant additional changes proposed for the medical insurance program that will adversely affect military retirees under the age of 65. If an upcoming Senate vote approves the changes, those retirees would see the initiation of that annual enrollment fee ($450 for an individual, $900 for a family) and a significant increase in co-pays/deductibles.

According to AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly this will lead to an increase of up to around $2,000 a year for retirees, who are often on a fixed income. With it looking more and more like the Senate will approve the changes, the VSO's are voicing their displeasure.

"They say that this creates a more level ground for the civilian side which we just think is ridiculous," Chenelly said during an appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show. "This is a benefit that we were promised... it's something that can't go forward, but right now is looking very much like it will. We'll be fighting it." 

The VFW agrees, having released an action alert to their membership once they learned of the proposed hike in fees for retirees. According to VFW Legislative Director Carlos Fuentes, it's believed that around 12,000 VFW members have contacted their Senator so far to voice their displeasure with the bill. The organization itself is also very vocal about their stance. 

"The VFW opposes this attempt to balance the budget on the backs of service members, veterans and their families," Fuentes said. "We opposed the TRICARE fee increases in last year’s NDAA and hope that the NDAA conference committee will once again defeat this proposal which would endanger the financial wellbeing of the brave men and women have worn our nation’s uniform."

Both organizations say the only way to stop these changes is a grass roots effort, which is why they say they will continue to implore their membership, and all veterans, to make their concerns known to their elected officials. 

Related Story: VSOs: The time to stop proposed TRICARE changes is NOW

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