Military Advantage

Congress Weighs Painful New Budget Cut Options


According to a report by Tom Philpott, the Congressional Budget Office recently laid out over 100 budget cutting options to help curb federal spending. While most of the options do not directly impact servicemembers, retirees, and veterans, several do.

The following is an abbreviated list of the options that the CBO offered Congress last week. You will notice that a few of them are familiar, but with a new twist.

 The Option to Increase TRICARE Fees:  The CBO laid out an option based on a complex combination of increases in fees, deductibles, and co-pays, which amounts to increases in retirees out-of-pocket medical expenses. In addition, TRICARE for Life users would have to pay a greater share of the costs not covered by Medicare.

The Option to Cap Military Pay Raises: According to the CBO, Congress should consider changing the current law governing the annual military pay increases by capping raises  at .5 percent lower than the rate of civilian wage growth. The current law requires that military pay raises be .5 percent higher than the civilian rate.

The Option to Ban Concurrent Receipt: According to the CBO, Congress could bring back the ban on Concurrent Receipt. CR is the law which allows 50 percent service-connected disabled retirees to draw both VA disability compensation and their full retired pay. Banning CR would require all disabled retirees to have their retired pay offset by their VA compensation.

The Option to Tighten VA Compensation and "IU" Eligibility: The CBO report lays out an option that would have the VA stop compensating vets for the following ailments, which are not easily linked to military service:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Arteriosclerotic heart disease
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Osteoarthritis
The change to the unemployeable "IU" rating would include restricting IU to veterans under the current retirement age of 65.

Check out Tom Philpott's latest 'Military Update' which explains these "options" in greater detail.


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