Defense bill controls fee increases

The 2012 Defense Bill complies with The American Legion’s opposition to arbitrary TRICARE fee increases by tying any such increases directly to military retirement pay raises.

Specifically, the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31 by President Obama, reads, “Whenever after September 30, 2012, the Secretary of Defense increases the retired pay of members and former members of the armed forces… the Secretary shall increase the amount of the fee payable for enrollment in TRICARE Prime by an amount equal… to the percentage increase in such retired pay.”

“This is a victory for those of us who have fought to keep the government from increasing the out-of-pocket cost for military retirees using TRICARE,” American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong said. “Health-care benefits are the reward for a career well spent in the U.S. Armed Forces. Increasing out-of-pocket costs without increasing retirement pay would reduce the value of that reward.”

Another aspect of the Defense Bill that relates to TRICARE, and was supported by the Legion, aims to ensure there is an adequate number of health-care providers honoring the benefit to meet the military retiree community’s needs. “Considering the traditional shortage of such resources, this is welcome news,” Wong said.