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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

At Senate hearing, military health care gets scrutiny

At Senate hearing, military health care gets scrutiny
Stars and Stripes
By Chris Carroll
Published: June 11, 2013

WASHINGTON — For a fleeting moment, at least, lawmakers seemed to be coming around to the idea that the Pentagon benefits system has its limits.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that legislators’ continued pushback against Pentagon requests for modest Tricare fee and copay increases for working-age retirees will put DOD in a financial bind in coming years. And, legislators seemed inclined to listen.

“We’re not going to fight our enemies with a good health care plan,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., asked Hagel and Dempsey whether they have started communication efforts with veterans — a segment of society heavily invested in military success, he said — to explain that rising military benefit costs and falling defense budgets could leave future troops without adequate equipment or training.

Both answered yes, and DOD Comptroller Robert Hale laid out an estimate of how much money DOD hopes to recoup from higher health care costs for Tricare members.
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