The Pentagon and White House has proposed a number of changes that could impact the financial future of military families, but one of the most controversial was an increase to retail pharmacy co-pays and fees for TRICARE beneficiaries, mostly retirees. The suggestion had been met with significant resistance, and Congress took a significant step forward in making sure the fee increase are not implemented, according to Military Times.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee rejected all of the proposals included in the 2014 defense authorization bill that would have made changes such as increased enrollment fees and steeper pharmacy co-pays. The vote comes after the House took the same action and, as a result, the Pentagon will be limited to increasing fees only at the level of current cost of living adjustments. So servicemembers will see no increases higher than 1.7 percent starting Oct. 1. Still, lawmakers admit some changes need to be made.
"TRICARE is, quite frankly, unsustainable without reform," Sen. Lindsey Graham said last month. "We haven't increased premiums since 1995 but once, and it's really pitting the military between health care benefits for retirees and funding the force."
Increasing fees on working-age retirees could help the Pentagon save a considerable amount of money. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Department of Defense could save billions, according to Navy Times.