Lost among all the huffing and hullaballoo over the federal shutdown, the debt ceiling, the WWII Monument and the baseball playoffs, some 171,000 veterans and their families have been unceremoniously kicked off of Tricare Prime, effective October 1.
Earlier this year, the Department of Defense sent out a letter to affected families that any families living more than 40 miles from active or former military installations would be cut off from Tricare Prime. These families are being forced onto the more expensive Tricare Standard, or off of Tricare altogether, unless they get waivers approved. The Pentagon announced it was open to waiver applications from those who lived at within 100 miles of a military installation.
The DoD, for its part, estimates the change will save the taxpayer between $45 and $65 million per year.
If those families affected switch to Tricare Standard, they will have to pay coinsurance of 25 percent for retirees. This is on top of an annual deductible of $150 for individuals and $300.
Members of Congress introduced legislation in both houses last year to block the move; Representative John Kline (R – Minnesota) introduced H.R. 1971 in the House, while Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, also from Minnesota, introduced a similar bill, the Keep Faith with TRICARE Prime Act (S. 1078).
Neither bill got far. The bill in the House got 38 sponsors (11 Democrats and 27 Republicans) and was referred to the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel. The identical Senate version was read twice, gained five sponsors (all Democrats) and referred to the Committee on Armed Services last summer, with no action since.
And so some 171,000 veterans and their families will have no choice but to switch to the more expensive Tricare Standard, through no fault of their own.
The mass forceout was a bone of contention recently on the Ed Schultz show recently. A caller phoned the show and informed Schultz that he and his family – and 171,000 others, were being forced out of Tricare Prime. Schultz accused him of having his facts wrong.
But it’s true – October 1, 2013 marked the date of the forced removal of 171,000 people from the Tricare Prime plan.