Human Events Blog

Military families feel the ObamaCare pinch

ObamaCare’s long-anticipated hit to military families is here at last, about a year after Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon first gave the heads-up:

The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.

The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.

The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.

This is all fairly explicitly intended to “save money” by “cutting” the only thing Obama is ever interested in cutting, while simultaneously shoving military personnel and their families into the hellish ObamaCare “public exchanges” – you know, the operations that no sane state government actually wants to set up.  The pre-planned structural failure of these exchanges will lead to howls for single-payer nationalized health care in a couple of years.  Dumping more people into them will accelerate the process.

It’s considered extremely rude to notice that the money “saved” by these military benefit cuts will be spent elsewhere, rather than folded into a grand plan to balance the budget.  In other words, everybody except the military still gets their unfunded benefits.  A congressional aide complained to Gertz that “defense has made up to this point 50 percent of deficit reduction cuts that we agreed to, but is only 20 percent of the budget.”  That sounds just like how the 20 percent of Americans who earn 50 percent of the income but pay 70 percent of the taxes are constantly told they’re not “paying their fair share.”

Military personnel can take some comfort in the knowledge that ObamaCare is driving everyone’s insurance costs through the roof… but it looks like the troops will beat the rest of us into unaffordable insurance orbit:

Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.

According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.

The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.

The changes are worrying some in the Pentagon who fear it will severely impact efforts to recruit and maintain a high-quality all-volunteer military force. Such benefits have been a key tool for recruiting qualified people and keeping them in uniform.

No wonder Obama’s Defense Secretary suddenly announced that front-line combat positions for women would be greatly expanded.  Those who command our shriveled armed forces won’t have much room to be choosy about who they send into battle.

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