Surgeon General Advocates Proposed Military Healthcare Changes

Lt. Gen. Charles Green, Air Force surgeon general, told lawmakers that he supports the proposed changes to the military’s healthcare system that are outlined in the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget request. They include increased Tricare enrollment fees with a tiered fee construct, a new Tricare-for-Life enrollment fee, and increased pharmacy co-pays, according to Defense Department budget documents. “DOD beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs with the proposed changes remain far below the cost-sharing percentage they experienced in 1995,” said Green in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel last week. He noted that national health care costs continue to rise at rates above general inflation and DOD “is not insulated” from this growth since it purchases more than 60 percent of its healthcare services from the private sector. “We understand we cannot ask our beneficiaries to share more of the cost for health care without seeking significant internal efficiencies,” said Green. Accordingly, he said, “We are increasing efficiency by reducing administrative costs, improving access, recapturing care, and introducing cutting-edge technology to better connect our providers and patients.” Green said the proposed changes will ensure DOD’s healthcare benefits continue “over the long term.” (Green’s prepared testimony)