MILITARY HEALTH CARE: House Democrats Propose New Plan
House Democrats Tuesday announced a measure on health care for military personnel and their families that would eliminate co-payments, the AP/Arizona Daily Star reports. Since 1956, the military retirees were only afforded a "choice between free care at a military facility, or enrolling in an insurance program," which usually meant the federal Tricare program. The bill would allow Medicare-eligible military retirees over 65 to choose either a military hospital or Medicare provider. Under the old system, after 65 all retirees converted to Medicare, which paid 75% of total medical costs, forcing veterans to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. "We made a promise to take care of these career men and women and their families," Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the senior ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee and sponsor of the bill, said. The plan would cost $910 million, "far less than a broader Republican measure offered last week and estimated to cost between $8 billion and $10 billion," according to the bill's sponsors. Last week during testimony before Congress, Defense Secretary William Cohen argued that the new Democratic plan is "perhaps the single most important issue we can address this year and in the future" (2/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.