Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tricare reportedly not protected by Obamacare

(Update: Shortly after posting this, H.R. 4887 was approved by the House, will applies to the health care coverage provided by the Defense Department to military service members, retirees and their families. It clarifies the tax code to stipulate that coverage provided by Defense is treated as minimal essential coverage, ensuring that service members and their families will not need to purchase additional coverage to meet new health insurance requirements. Please note: THIS WAS NOT PART OF THE ORIGINAL HEALTH CARE BILL.)

The original House bill had exempted military personnel, retirees and certain civilian employees who use Tricare, a federally-sponsored health care system. But the Senate version doesn't seem to have the same protections.

As a participant of Tricare, I don't want to be screwed royally by our government even further. After tying Tricare reimbursement rates to those of Medicare on March 1, 2010, it's going to be even more difficult to find physicians who will accept Tricare. (Update for 3/22/10: I found information that says this will be delayed for 30 days). Some sources have reported that only 40 percent of doctors accept Medicare because payments are so low. So now what?

The Democrat plan for health care reform doesn't make sense.

Today, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the statement below regarding his intent to introduce legislation to explicitly state in law that TRICARE and the DOD nonappropriated fund (NAF) health plans meet all of the health care requirements currently under consideration by Congress for individual health insurance.

As reported by Coast Guard Times today:
Although the health care legislation passed by the House explicitly exempted TRICARE from being affected, the Senate bill did not. Unfortunately, the parliamentary rules of the reconciliation process did not allow for the inclusion of language that specifically protects these programs. To reassure our nation’s service members and their families that their health coverage will remain unaffected by this, I will introduce legislation this week to explicitly state that TRICARE and the NAF health plans meet all requirements for individual health insurance; this language will also be included in this year’s national defense authorization bill.”

While the White House is reporting that Tricare won't be affected, it's hard to believe anything the Obama adminitration reports.

According to Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN), Ranking Member on the House Committee of Veterans' Affairs:

“The health care reform bill DOES NOT cover most TRICARE beneficiaries under its definition of minimum essential coverage for health insurance--it only includes TRICARE for Life. Further, the bill’s definition of minimum essential coverage DOES NOT cover the children who suffer with spina bifida as a result of a veteran parent exposed to Agent Orange during the Korean or Vietnam Wars, and also does not cover CHAMPVA beneficiaries (certain dependents, widows and orphans).”

Even on the Democrat side of the isle, some Democrats are troubled with the bill as it now stands. Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Virginia Beach) regarding his planned vote on the health care bill:

Our military families need to be able to count on their health care benefits, and I am not willing to risk negative consequences for our military personnel and their families, particularly at a time when our troops are serving overseas in harm’s way...

I know there are some people who will be disappointed with my vote, but I believe that I have a firm duty to vote my conscience and represent the best interests of my district. As much as we need health care reform, we also have an obligation to enact responsible changes for the American people, and to restore their trust in government.
On a broader front, in response to Obama's latest speech about health care, in an editorial titled "The End of Hope and Change," Benjamin Domenech, managing editor of CBS Health Care News, writes:
The fact that Obama continues to spend such energy in support of legislation that all reputable independent data suggest will raise premium costs, increase the entitlement burden, destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs, and enforce a dramatic disincentive for success indicates that this is all about politics, not which policies actually work best for the American people.

We need health care reform. We don't need what is being shoved down our throats.

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