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House Panel Rejects Pay Cap and TRICARE Hikes

Servicemembers and military retirees may be pleased to learn that the plan to increase TRICARE enrollment fees and cap military pay increases and may not go as well as the DoD and White House had hoped. According to a report by Tom Philpott, the House armed services subcommittee on military personnel unanimously rejected the Obama administration's call to cap the 2014 military pay raise at one percent versus and most of the administration's plans to increase TRICARE fees. The only increase that made it through the House panel is plan to increase TRICARE Prime co-pays to $16. Now it is up to the Senate Armed Services Committee to come up with its own version of the defense authorization bill next month. Philpott reports that the senate panel is expected to embrace more of the personnel cost controls proposed by the president. Surprisingly support for the administration’s plan appears to have bi-partisan support in the senate as the ranking Republican on the SASC personnel subcommittee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), has voiced support for raising TRICARE fees, IF it helps make TRICARE more sustainable. Many retirees hoped that when Congress approved pharmacy co-pay increases and TRICARE Prime enrollment fee hikes last year that it would help stave off more drastic increases later. In fact, TRICARE cost growth is likely to slow already because of the DoD plan to force TRICARE Prime enrolled retirees and their families to switch to TRICARE Standard in October. (The Standard is TRICARE's less generous fee-for-service option, which will result in increased out-of-pocket expenses for 177,000 retirees in FY2014). Read Tom Philpott’s full article on Military.com. Let your elected officials know how you feel about the President’s proposed 2014 defense budget.

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