WFB Tricare story makes waves

Watch Bill Gertz on Fox News Channel

February 28, 2012

JON SCOTT: Well, "happening now," the Obama administration is working on a plan that would increase health care premiums for men and women in uniform. Under the president's proposed budget, military families and retirees would cough up more money to pay for their health care. Some reports put the increase in premiums as high as 345 percent after five years. Let's talk about this with somebody who’s been digging into it, Bill Gertz, the senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon. Full disclosure, I suppose in a way you could say this effects me because my oldest son, just starting his army career as a second lieutenant, Bill. You could also say that he's covered for another four or five years under my policy which, which is required under the new health care law. So I'm not sure how it washes out. But Tricare is the military, military medical insurance, and the president's budget is calling for what?

BILL GERTZ: Yeah. This is going to be a huge political fight. It has to do with increasing the costs of medical care, some for the active duty military and their families, but mostly for retirees. The Pentagon is trying to save $1.8 billion in the first year and as much as $12 billion by increasing these costs. And he's set off a firestorm there, and there are also concerns in the that this is going to severely impact the ability to recruit and retain the best qualified military personnel.

SCOTT: So the increases called for--we have a graphic that shows exactly what we're looking at here. Thirty to 78 percent in terms of the first year, and by year five depending on the pay grade of the officers involved here or the enlisted personnel, five years out, we could be looking at an increase of 345 percent?

GERTZ: Yeah. They're doing a kind of means testing for, based on retirement pay or the pay of retirement pegging the increases in premiums. All of this has to be approved by congress, of course, and that's going to be where the fight is. A lot of people are saying, look, the military's being cut by forces, their equipment's being cut, and now they're asking the military to make a health care benefit cuts at the same time the civilian government work force isn't facing any similar cuts at all. So there's a real question of fairness.

SCOTT: Yeah. And interesting, the unionized military workers, those who are covered by union plans, they are not asked to pay a hike under this plan.

GERTZ: Right. And, of course, the military service organizations are leading the fight on this, and they're summing it up in two words: breaking faith. You know, people join the military, they serve their 20 years, then they were promised these benefits and now all of a sudden it looks like the Pentagon and the Obama administration are reneging on those promises.

SCOTT: Also, very quickly, interesting that the bump doesn't kick in until after the election, right?

GERTZ: Right. It seems like most of the cuts are there.

SCOTT: All right. Bill Gertz from the Washington Free Beacon. Bill, thank you.


Published under: Media , Tricare , TV News