TRICARE Funding

Posted: August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
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On 29 JUN Congress received a reprogramming request from the Defense Department to shift more than $7 billion from specifically designated programs to other program initiatives within operations. The request pulls from accounts where spending is less than previously estimated and reprograms increases into areas such as fuel costs (see below article on Navy Green Fuel) , counterterrorism for several Middle Eastern countries, and to compensate for Pakistan closing ground supply routes to Afghanistan. The National Association of Uniformed Services noted that contained in the request is the reprogramming of $708 million of available money from the Defense Health Program. According to DOD, “funds are available because of a significant downward spike in the private sector care (PSC) cost growth rates. Through the first 6 months of FY 2012, private sector care costs are growing at historically low rates of 0.6 percent for active duty and -2.7 percent for all other beneficiaries.”
In its request to Congress, the Department said, “The FY 2012 budget estimate assumed private sector care cost growth rates of 12.9 percent for active duty and 8.5 percent for all other beneficiaries.” With a negative rate of military medical inflation for beneficiaries, the Pentagon estimate for TRICARE costs becomes greatly excessive. “These funds,” the Department said, “are excess to Defense Health Program requirements and can be used for higher priority items with no impact to the program.” A year ago, Congress and the Department increased beneficiary cost 13 percent for TRICARE Prime, while simultaneously moving more than $500 million from the TRICARE program to fund a number of “higher priority items,” including $350 million for non-battlefield and non-military research projects. This year, it’s $708 million. While seeking to shift funds, Pentagon officials continue to assert that the costs of health care earned by military retirees in prior defense of the nation “are hurtful, taking away from the nation’s ability to defend itself.” [Source: NAUS Weekly Update 3 Jul 2012 ++]

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