Charles Lane’s screed “Tricare the untouchable,” which was published in The Washington Post on March 26 and was printed April 3 in The Post and Courier, contains so many misrepresentations, it’s hard to know where to start.
He says the courts rejected military plaintiffs’ claims that they had been promised lifetime health care.
In fact, the courts acknowledged the promises, but said Congress has authority to change the rules.
He complains that costs for beneficiaries over 65 are higher than those of younger ones, as if it were shocking that older people require more health care. And he neglects to mention that Medicare (which military retirees must purchase like any other American) covers 80 percent of their costs.
Most offensively, he ignores that Congress has, in fact, raised military beneficiaries’ costs substantially — especially for pharmaceuticals — to the point where they now pay more for retail medications than many civilian plans require.
New requirements for annual fee increases and mail-order refills for maintenance medications will reap further significant savings for the Pentagon in coming years.
He cites exploding cost growth since 2001, but the spike occurred more than 10 years ago, and growth rates have been declining ever since. Growth in 2012 was a fraction of one percent, and it will decline in 2013 with the new changes.
In rejecting proposals to civilianize overall military health fees, Congress has recognized what Lane and other critics so blithely ignore.
If we expect to keep attracting top-quality people to endure the extraordinary demands and sacrifices inherent in a multi-decade military career, we must offer a benefit package commensurate with that extraordinary sacrifice.
Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr.
President and CEO
Military Officers Association of America
N. Washington Street
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