MILITARY RETIREES: Senate OKs Permanent Health Care
By a 91-2 margin, the Senate yesterday voted to make permanent health care coverage an entitlement for all military retirees, at an estimated cost of $60 billion over 10 years, the New York Times reports. The bill passed the House Wednesday by a 378-33 vote, and President Clinton has indicated that he will sign the measure. Currently, military retirees -- those who have served at least 20 years in the armed forces -- are dropped from the military health plan TriCare as soon as they become eligible for Medicare. The new program will expand TriCare to include senior retirees and cover most of the expenses of treatment not covered under Medicare. Beneficiaries will be required to pay $3,000 per year for out-of-pocket medical costs, less than half the $7,500 currently required. The plan will also give retirees "generous" prescription drug coverage, allowing them to use mail order firms and retail pharmacies with an annual deductible of just $150. The bill, spearheaded by Rep. Stephen Buyer (R-Ind.), is a necessary measure to fulfill the recruitment promise of lifelong health care for men and women who make the military a career, according the bill's backers (Becker, New York Times, 10/13).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.