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Tell It Like It Is

For Military Retirees The Healthcare Battles Never End

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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

Tell It Like It Is
March 10, 2011 | 2,391 views | Post a comment

Harlingen, Texas, March 10, 2011: Those of us who endured that first winter of the Korean War still remember those bone chilling winds and the cold that never ended. We remember the inadequate clothing, boots and weaponry. We remember the water freezing in our canteens. We remember the ice forming on our beards and fingers so cold we could barely pull the triggers of our rifles. We also remember all of those who never lived to see the next spring.

Some of us were still in uniform when our country ordered us into Vietnam. We endured heat so oppressive you could hardly draw a breath. We prayed for those afternoon rains that would drench our bodies, but give us a brief relief from the heavy heat. We would burn the leaches from our bodies with the tips of cigarettes and wear flea collars around our boats and wrists with the hope those insects would find a different home. We never knew when an enemy we called “Charlie” would pop up from a spider hole , greet us with a poisoned pungi stick or even with a covered pit filled with multiples of these poison barbs.

This is just a quick peek into the window of what our military retirees endured over the course of a twenty to thirty year career of defending the United States and its citizens. We have written here about warriors on the ground, but the men and women who wore the uniforms of this country all suffered hardships over the course of their many years on active duty. They faced years of separation from family and friends. They existed on meager wages because they were promised a better life in retirement. Most of all, in their naivety, they believed the multiple promises of the political elite.

The biggest promise our government reneged upon was the pledge to provide every man and woman who served the nation for twenty or more years complete medical care for life. There were hearings and protests. Litigation went all the way through our court system. But it was only to limited avail. Military retires never received that “guaranteed” medical care promised by the politicians in our nation’s capitol. In effect, the court system said it was permissible for the political elite to lie.... and lie they did.

There was health care provided with a list of fees and co-pays attached. Those military retirees over 65 years of age were required to sign up and pay for Medicare and finally a program called Tricare Prime was activated for those retirees under 65 years of age, if they paid the required fees. After even more battles Tricare for Life, which is a supplemental plan attached to Medicare, was passed by Congress for the seniors among the military retired community.

Then entered the Obama Administration and the catastrophic debt of our country. Once again it looks as if military retirees must go into battle, but this time it will by political combat. Again they will be fighting for those promised benefits that were never completely honored.

The Obama proposal, echoed in a report issued by the Center for American Progress, a liberal “think tank” founded by Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, states the cost of military health care will reach 10% of the Pentagon budget by 2015.

The proposal calls for targeting working-age military retirees who have chosen Tricare Prime over employer funded coverage, insinuating that these military retirees are hurting the country by using their earned benefits.

The plan also calls for implementing fees for those retirees over age 65 who use Tricare for Life coverage. Under this proposal those senior military retirees would be required to pay annual enrollment fees of $120 a person, see an increase with cost sharing with Medicare and lose coverage for the first $500 of medical expenses.

The plan also calls for continuing increased fees for all military retirees and a tiered fee structure for working-age retirees. This would include regularly scheduled increases in enrollment fees for those who use Tricare services. It would also limit all coverage to 50% of the next $5,000 of medical expense.

The claim is this will save the government $4 billion a year. This idea is aimed at a population group of Americans that have already given more to their country than nine out of ten citizens and every member of Congress. This also comes at a time when the Obama Administration has passed a universal health care bill that will provide 30 million uninsured Americans with free health care.

It looks as if 1.5 million men and women who have already paid a very high price to keep this country safe and free are now being asked to forego their own health plans and help fund the universal care bill of President Obama.

Semper Fidelis
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