TRICARE Fee Increases Excluded From Spending Bill
The House on Thursday voted 396-31 to approve the $512.9 billion fiscal year 2007 defense authorization bill, which does not include most of a proposal from President Bush to increase TRICARE fees, CQ Today reports (Donnelly, CQ Today, 5/11).
The proposal, developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would have increased TRICARE copayments and enrollment fees by 115% for military retirees younger than age 65 (California Healthline, 4/25). However, the bill would increase retail pharmacy prescription fees for military retirees to encourage the use of mail-order services (American Health Line, 5/8).
The legislation also would extend TRICARE benefits to almost all National Guard members and reservists, regardless of whether they were mobilized after Sept. 11, 2001 (CQ Today, 5/11).
The FY 2005 defense authorization law extended TRICARE benefits to National Guard members and reservists mobilized after Sept. 11, 2001 -- regardless of whether they were no longer on active duty -- provided that they pay 28% of the premium (California Healthline, 4/25).
Prior to the vote, the Bush administration said in a statement that the elimination of the proposed TRICARE fee increases would cost $700 million in FY 2007 and $11.2 billion over five years (Scully, CongressDaily, 5/11). After the vote, the Bush administration expressed "disappointment" that the bill did not include the proposed TRICARE fee increases and said that the proposed TRICARE expansion -- which would cost $400 million in FY 2007 and $3.6 billion over five years -- "dramatically worsens the fiscal situation" of the program (CQ Today, 5/11).