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Families Safe in DoD's new Budget

It looks like most Defense Department military family program spending is safe for now, according to 2013 budget details released by the Pentagon this morning.

(Do you hear that noise? That’s a collective sigh of relief from military family programs users and managers everywhere).

Military families were concerned that beloved recreation programs, child care support, commissaries and family support services like counseling would take major hits as the Defense Department sorts out how to achieve congressionally mandated cuts. While those still could come in the future, most programs are facing minimal downsizing if any now.

There is one request within the budget proposal could have a big impact on some active duty families and retirees, especially ones who take a lot of non-generic medications filled at off-base pharmacies. The budget recommends an increase from $12 to $26 per prescription for non-generic drugs filled off-base.  And the cost is projected to go even higher, to $36, by 2017.

Prescriptions filled at on-base pharmacies will continue to be free. But if you’re like me and know that the hounds of hell could not convince you to sit for two hours waiting at a base pharmacy with a squirmy and annoyed two-year-old, you’re likely going to have to pay almost double for the off-base convenience.

As far as other TRICARE issues are concerned, the proposed budget is relatively kind to active duty families, but suggests increased fees for retiree healthcare coverage.

The family program spending request for 2013 is the same as it was for 2012 -- $8.5 billion. The distribution of that money among the programs under the family spending banner differs slightly from last year, but overall users aren’t likely to feel the pinch.

For example, the funding request for running and updating base schools run by the Defense Department Education Activity (DoDEA) went from $2.5 billion last year to $2.7 billion this year, but the categories that fund recreation and military spouse employment programs, like MyCAA, went down $.1 billion respectively.

Overall, military family programs – and military families – are likely to fair pretty well budget wise over 2013. We may not be so lucky in 2014 as DoD is forced to put into action the sweeping cuts prescribed by Congress late last year.

And finally: this budget proposal, of course, doesn’t mean a thing until Congress gives its go-ahead, and any or all of what the Defense Department suggested can be changed before that happens.

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