Sunday, May 9, 2010


This article, "Gates: Spending 'gusher' now off," in Politico, is a must read; specifically, on page 2, Secretary Gates talks about cutting TRICARE costs by increasing premiums and co-pays for military members:

The military’s health care system, called TRICARE, is another area that Gates said needs cutting.

“Leaving aside the sacred obligation we have to America’s wounded warriors, health-care costs are eating the Defense Department alive, rising from $19 billion a decade ago to roughly $50 billion – about the entire foreign affairs and assistance budget of the State Department,” Gates said in his speech.

It’s a perennial fight between the Pentagon and Congress, which loathes cutting such benefits – particularly for soldiers who have been fighting the nation’s wars for nearly nine years, and one the Pentagon tends to lose. But Gates wants Congress to back his request to raise the premium and co-pay.

“The increase we’re talking about would be laughable to those who have non-governmental health care,” he told reporters, adding that a family of four under TRICARE pays $1,200, compared with what the same family would pay under the federal employee health insurance program: $3,200.

What Gates ignores is the fact that the military people (especially the enlisted) don’t make as much as federal employees in comparable jobs, perhaps he should compare the ratios between health care costs vs salaries; and, oh, by the way, figure into the equation:

--military member having to fend off bullets and watch for IEDs (danger in all aspects of their jobs), which federal employees don’t have to put up with,

--the fact that military families are often being split apart from each other during extended deployments, and,

--the constant uncertainty and hardships that military families have to endure throughout the members' career such as relocations, spouses having to find new jobs, children having to attend different schools and make new friends, saying goodbye to friends, neighbors, and family every three to four years.

If nothing else, the low health insurance costs and co-pays are a promise made to our low paid military families who for hundreds of years have given much, in some cases, their lives, to keep the federal employees, bureaucrats, and the rest of the nation in their cushy, safe, lives.

Given the trials and tribulations that no other sector or industry has to contend with, lower health care insurance premiums and co-pays is relatively a very small price to pay. Our government is willing to pay for health insurance with trillions of our tax dollars with no return on the investment, yet quibbling over $50 billion for military health care that comes with a very large payback—safety and freedom. And, here's another quick question to ponder, how much of your federal and state tax dollars are going to labor union employees to pay for their health care costs? Don’t sit back and hope for the best, write your congressman/women and voice your discontent.

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