Another Shoe Dropped:

The Congressionally chartered Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care believes that DOD should get the green light to raise Tricare fees for military retirees. In its just-released interim report, the 14-member group—seven from within DOD and seven non-DOD individuals from a variety of disciplines—states that the members believe “military retirees should receive health care benefits that are generous compared with US public and private plans.” Consequently, the report states, “Costs borne by beneficiaries should be increased to a level below that of the current FEHBP or that of generous private-sector plans and should be set at or below the level in effect in 1996.” Federal civilian retirees pay about 25 percent of total costs under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan. The task force, which plans to recommend specific cost-sharing proposals in its final report due in December, believes the Pentagon should implement new fees over three to five years. The good news: The task force recommends Congress implement “a onetime increase in military retired pay to offset part or all of the increase” should it feel the fee increase is too large. For the second year in a row, lawmakers seem inclined to put the skids on DOD’s rush to impose a fee increase.