NGAUS Washington Report
(April 9, 2013) When the president unveils his budget Wednesday, higher fees for Defense Department health care is expected to be one of its recommendations.
News reports ahead of the budget’s release mention an almost certain effort by the Pentagon to cut down on its spiraling health care costs by pushing some of that cost to the consumer in the form of higher fees and new fees for TRICARE.
Other items in the budget are expected to be another round of base closings under the Base Realignment and Closure process and a 1 percent pay raise for military members.
The Pentagon attempted last year to increase health care fees and implement new ones, moves that were opposed by NGAUS and that did not pass Congress.
Nothing has changed since then. In fact, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned recently of “the growing imbalance in where the money is being spent internally,” calling it the Pentagon’s greatest fiscal threat. Money spent on benefits, he said, cannot be spent on weapons systems or training.
The Associated Press today points out that health care costs for the Pentagon have grown from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion in 2012. A Congressional Budget Office estimate expects that figure to reach $65 billion by 2017.