Military’s Top Medical Leaders Sound Off

March 27, 2015

The Surgeons General of the Army, Navy, and Air Force issued the biggest rebuke yet on proposed changes to radically transform military health care benefits.                         

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, the military’s top medical officials said that recommendations to privatize TRICARE would negatively affect military readiness.  

One of the recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) is to eliminate TRICARE for military families and working age retirees. TRICARE would be replaced with a selection of commercial insurance plans similar to those available for federal civilian employees.  

Army Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho stated that “our hospitals are our health readiness platforms," and "[t]his crucial link to readiness sets us apart from the civilian health system.” Horoho emphasized that comparisons between military medicine and civilian health programs represent some one of the “biggest threats to the system,” because of their drastically different purposes.  

MOAA agrees with the panel’s opposition to the TRICARE proposals. TRICARE’s design is to support military readiness, including military family readiness. The civilian health plans proposed by the MCRMC serve a very different purpose and fail to factor in military readiness.   

“The unintended consequences could be severe,” said MOAA’s Deputy Director of Government Relations Capt. Kathy Beasley, USN (Ret).   

Earlier this year, four out of five MOAA members surveyed said they preferred TRICARE to a health insurance system similar to what federal civilians have.  

While the services seem poised to reject the TRICARE proposals in the MCRMC report, the military community seems divided over the commission’s pay reforms.  

The defense department has until Apr. 1 to report on the commission’s findings. MOAA will keep you informed as this story develops.