TRICARE Funding at Risk

July 31, 2015

Move over VA.       

Weeks after the VA asked Congress for a bailout, DoD has come forward with its own $2 billion budget crisis. Without help, DoD could run out of health care funding for outside treatment.

However, unlike the VA, DoD is not only looking at Congress to bail them out, but for beneficiaries to take on even more costs. 

DoD was forced to request additional funding to cover a budget shortfall due to the rising costs of compound medications. DoD revised its compound medication policy in May to curb costs, but the budget shortfall remains. 

In its request, DoD says that it is trying to control costs, pointing to its payment reform initiatives. Missing from the narrative, however, are the beneficiary initiatives that have resulted in significant cost savings.

Over the last several years, TRICARE beneficiaries have been forced to accept several health care fee increases and policy changes. Specifically, annual pharmacy copay increases and mandated use of the mail-order pharmacy system for maintenance medications are two initiatives beneficiaries shoulder.

By using the home delivery program and paying more for prescriptions, TRICARE for Life beneficiaries have significantly contributed to 80 percent of the cost savings that the Defense Health Agency has claimed this past year. 

Coincidentally, DoD's request comes as Congress once again wrestles with raising TRICARE copays

The request only serves to embolden those in Congress who want to shift costs onto servicemembers, retirees, and their families.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon proposed tripling pharmacy copays in its FY16 budget request. House lawmakers rejected the proposal, but the Senate continues to push for the fee increases. 

“DoD is long overdue for a serious look at its internal structure and needs to get its budget in control before asking beneficiaries to bail them out,” said MOAA's Deputy Director of Government Relations, Capt. Kathy Beasley, USN (Ret).

Act now to send your legislators a MOAA-suggested message asking them to resist these shortsighted, budget-driven cuts to military pay, health care and benefits.