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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Legislative Alert #07-01

The Issue: A DOD PROPOSAL TO INCREASE TRICARE ENROLLMENT FEES, DEDUCTIBLES AND PHARMACEUTICAL CO-PAY FOR ALL MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL GUARD.

Immediate Action Required: Contact your members of Congress and urge them to oppose administration proposals to increase TRICARE deductibles, enrollment fees and pharmaceutical co-pays.

During the FY07 defense budget process, the Department of Defense (DOD) proposed to triple TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard fees for military retirees under the age of 65. It would also have increased retail pharmacy fees for all TRICARE beneficiaries by almost 70%! Thanks to a full-court press by NGAUS and other veterans associations, Congress prohibited any increases in TRICARE enrollment premiums under TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Reserve Select, and prohibited any increase in co-payments for pharmaceuticals dispensed through the TRICARE retail pharmacy program in FY2007.

The Administration is at it again and has upped the ante by proposing to increase TRICARE fees even more for FY2008. Although the Pentagon hasn’t published any “specific” plan for fee increases, claiming they are waiting on the results of the DoD-appointed Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care, the Defense Budget submitted to Congress in early February assumes a $1.8 billion savings from TRICARE fee increases.

NGAUS strongly opposes these TRICARE fee increases that are nothing more than an attempt to free-up funds for other uses on the backs of retired members and families who have earned this health care benefit with their service and sacrifice.

We need your help now to ensure TRICARE costs do not increase. Contact your members of Congress and alert them to this situation and urge them to support legislation (S.604) introduced by Senator’s Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Chuck Hagel (R-NB), “The Military Health Care Protection Act.” It would place reasonable and affordable caps on enrollment fees, deductibles, and pharmacy co-pays for military retirees. This legislation would also establish that the percentage increase in retiree’s health care fees in any given year should not exceed the percentage of increase in their compensation.

Similar legislation (H.R.579) has been introduced in the House by Representative’s Chet Edwards (D-TX) and Walter Jones (R-NC) that would not only stop any fee increases, but also remove the authority from DOD, shifting that responsibility to Congress. Act now to ensure military retirees will continue to have access to “affordable” health care!

TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTION:

By using the “Write to Congress” feature on the NGAUS Web site at
www.ngaus.org, you can IMMEDIATELY e-mail your elected representatives. A sample letter is included in our “Write to Congress” feature. You can e-mail the pre-written message or edit the sample letter as you desire. This is the quickest and most effective method of expressing your views to Congress. Also, contact your friends and family and urge them to "Write to Congress" as well. For more in-depth information and background visit our web site at www.ngaus.org. Please direct any questions concerning this issue to Pete Duffy, NGAUS Deputy Legislative Director at 202-454-5307 or via email: pete.duffy@ngaus.org.

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