Friday, March 26, 2010

Health Reform as it Pertains to Tricare

Tricare is the health insurance the vast majority of military retirees have. I got this email from MOAA today, thought I'd pass it on. I made some improvements to formatting, and any emphasis is mine.

Dear Sergeant First Class (me),

In recent days, we’ve seen a barrage of information (and misinformation, in many cases) about how national health reform legislation might affect currently serving and retired service members and their families.

Now that President Obama has signed the initial legislation into law, I want to lay out for you what we know.

The biggest question on our members’ minds has been: “How will passage of national health reform legislation affect me?” For members under age 65, based on what we know so far, the answer appears to be, “Not much, if at all.”

There are some changes to Medicare, but it remains to be seen what the real impact of those may be over time. The most significant of them is likely to be some reduction of availability of Medicare Advantage HMOs.

In the meantime, MOAA has prepared answers to the most-frequently asked questions that we hope you’ll find useful.

Unfortunately, there already are messages flying around the internet to the effect that “I heard this will end TRICARE” or “This will force military people to buy other coverage.” That’s simply not true. If you get such messages, please help educate the senders with MOAA’s answers.

As MOAA has said from the beginning, everyone we’ve talked to in the Administration or the House or the Senate, of either political party, supports protecting military and VA beneficiaries from adverse effects associated with national health reform.

Just to be sure, MOAA and loyal members like you generated more than 100,000 messages to Congress urging protection of the unique military and VA health benefits and protection against any taxation of those benefits. And your voices were heard.

In as clear an indication of that as anyone could ask for, the House unanimously passed separate legislation explicitly citing TRICARE as “qualifying health coverage” for purposes of the new law. The Senate is working now to pass the same legislation. VA care and TRICARE For Life already were explicitly designated in law. That means eligible beneficiaries of those programs won’t be subject to financial penalties that can be imposed on people who don’t have qualifying insurance.

That said, let’s be clear on another key issue.

Can anyone guarantee that there will never be any unfavorable changes to military and VA programs? No.

Do we know for sure how all the details will play out? No.

There’s always a potential for unintended consequences, and there’s always the potential for new initiatives to arise (see below).

But if you were worried that national health reform legislation is somehow aimed at whacking military beneficiaries’ health coverage, that’s just not so.

Frankly, we think the much more significant issue for Medicare – and for the military community and the rest of America -- is what proposed changes will be recommended by the new National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that’s supposed to report by Dec. 1 on options to reduce the national debt.

You have my personal pledge that MOAA will continue to be vigilant as implementation of national health reform proceeds – and as the new debt commission proposals become known – and your association will continue to do everything in our power to protect your interests and your service-earned health benefits.

All the best,

VADM Norb Ryan Jr., USN (Ret)

When I was on active duty, I viewed Veterans Service Organizations (American Legion, VFW, etc.) as a bunch of old guys reliving their glory days.

Now that I'm of no further use to the military, I see exactly what these organizations are all about.

They fight to preserve what was promised to us all those years ago. They deserve your support.


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