Friday, February 17, 2006

'Support-the-Troops' Republicans Continue Their Push to Increase Military Retirees Health Care Costs -- In Order to Help Fund Current Operations

Pentagon Leaders Continue Fee Hike Campaign on Hill. This week, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Peter Pace, USMC, and Army Chief of Staff Gen Peter Schoomaker testified once again, this time before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense and continued to push fee increases for retirees under age 65...

At a separate hearing on Feb. 15, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs, DoD witnesses included Dr. William Winkenwerder, Asst. Sec. Def. for Health Affairs. Chairman James Walsh (R-NY) stated, “It’s going to be politically difficult for Congress to support these fee increases.” Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), the panel’s senior Democrat, asked Winkenwerder to “get the facts on the table” about where the proposed savings would come from.

Published reports indicate the large majority come from the expectation that the fee increases would drive large numbers of beneficiaries out of TRICARE (retiree healthcare system). Pressed about how many the budget plan is expected to drive away, Winkenwerder said “about 150,000.” (Note: from blog editor: elsewhere Dr Winkenwerder agreed that the real estimate is around 600,000)

The Military Officers Association of America, one of many retiree organizations fighting the increases noted:
"...the Pentagon leaders’ disingenuous double-talk about exorbitant fee increases being “necessary to sustain the current benefit.” We think it’s unconscionable to put the Joint Chiefs and Senior Enlisted Advisors in the position of having to advocate a benefit cut in order to fund weapons programs."


So now, military retiree healthcare can be added to education, healthcare for our citizens, funding for college loans and a variety of other critical needs of this country being stripped to mostly support the ongoing war in Iraq (at the same time that tax cuts for the rich are being made permanent). Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) was surprised that there had been no premium adjustment since 1996 and said this "needs to be reviewed" to ensure retirees pay their "fair share." Compared to who Mr. Chairman? You, who never served in the military? Oh yeah, I forgot about all those big defense corporations in your district in California who have funded your campaigns.

While we are talking about comparisons, here is something else to think about: It was reported today that the huge conglomerate, Time Warner, is staying together for now, including Warner Brothers, HBO, CNN, America Online and Time Magazine. Time Warner is worth about $84 Billion, about the same amount we are continuing to pump into Iraq every year as more of our sons and daughters die or are disabled for life. Think about it.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link