The Washington Post had a very good lead editorial this morning in support of very modest increases in health care premiums for veterans.
As the Center for American Progress points
out in a new report, the Pentagon is spending as much on health
care as on the war in Iraq.
...[R]etired personnel and their
dependents, who account for the majority of costs, can reasonably be
called on for more. Premiums for Tricare Prime, an HMO-like program,
have not been raised since it began in 1995; the cost is $460 a year for
family coverage. It’s no surprise that retirees often choose Tricare
over other group insurance and are using its services at an increased
Meantime, rather than clamping down on costs, Congress has
gone in the opposite direction. In 2001, it gave military retirees over
age 65, previously ineligible for the program, free “Tricare for Life”
to supplement Medicare. It rejected proposals — first from President
George W. Bush, then from President Obama — for modest increases in
Tricare fees. Now, for the fiscal 2012 budget, Mr. Gates is trying
again. He has proposed raising Tricare Prime enrollment fees by a modest
$60 a year, to $520, for the families of working-age retirees (those
under 65). Had premiums been adjusted to reflect national increases in
health-care costs, the charge would be just under $4,000. Civilian
federal retirees pay about $5,000 a year for their coverage.
No sooner had I read that editorial than I received an email from a veterans group urging me to write my Congressman in support of something called "H.R. 1092: Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act."
I love veterans -- heck, I am one myself -- but the last thing this country needs is for more debt and a greater share of the tax burden to be transferred to those under the age of 40. Any veteran who resists these modest and entirely justifiable increases in their health care premiums needs a refresher course in selfless service, and any Congressman who resists these increases should be prepared to draft a bill raising our taxes to help the Department of Defense pay for them.