Why cutting military health care benefits is a non starter

Washington Post:
IN THE POLITICS of defense spending, cutting expensive weapons programs plays the role that taxing the wealthy plays in the overall fiscal debate. Though undoubtedly necessary to any credible plan, it is far from sufficient. Yet advocates often talk as if reining in Pentagon spending is all about wasteful weapons.

In fact, weapons programs account for only about a third of defense spending, and the Obama administration is already planning significant reductions. The costs of operations and personnel make up the majority of the defense budget, so any balanced approach must deal with those as well.

Here, too, the administration plans cuts, including shrinking the Army and the Marine Corps. This is risky, given the potential threats the United States faces. Unfortunately, Congress is compounding the problem by protecting expensive items that inflate personnel costs without any corresponding payoff in defense readiness.

We refer to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s refusal to accept an administration proposal to trim Tricare, the military health-care program for which 9.7 million active and retired military personnel and family members are eligible. Obviously, those who serve or served their country deserve generous health benefits. But Tricare goes well beyond that. The service is free for active-duty service members and their families except for some prescription copayments. For retirees under the age of 65, many of whom are in the work force and eligible for employer-provided benefits, Tricare costs at most $1,000 per year out of pocket — less than a fifth of civilian plans, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The war has driven up the cost, because we have become much more efficient at saving lives that would have been lost in earlier wars, but the cost of repairing and caring for these new vets is expensive.  But at a time when Obama wants to add roughly 30 million people to Medicaid who did not make the same sacrifices the veterans made it just not make sense to make those who have paid such a high price subsidize Obamacare in effect.

At a time when Obama and other Democrats will not even consider make adjustments for future beneficiaries of Medicare to demand that service members and veterans pay more now is going to be a very tough sell.

Cut Obamacare and Medicare and then get back to me on this one.


  1. For some of us below 65, due to bankruptcy of our civilian employers, there is no medical program, or it is literally so expensive it is cheaper to go without. Tricare makes medical coverage possible.


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