Fact or fiction? Military health benefits to be cut

Claim: The TRICARE program for the military and military retirees will be cut as part of the insurance overhaul.

TRICARE is a health insurance program for members of the military, military retirees, and their dependents. According to the Congressional Budget Office, most of TRICARE’s health benefits are "provided to dependents and retirees, not to the active-duty force. In part, that is because the uniformed military represents less than 20 percent of eligible TRICARE beneficiaries." The CBO said "many policymakers worry" that TRICARE "will become unaffordable in the future," yet Congress rejected the Bush administration’s attempts to increase the program's co-pays, enrollment fees, and deductibles, which have remained unchanged since 1995.

Fact or fiction?
Fiction. When the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted on its version of the insurance overhaul bill last July, it issued a statement that TRICARE is "exempted from our legislation." Likewise, a Senate Finance Committee aide said that committee’s bill won’t affect TRICARE at all. But the rapid growth of TRICARE spending remains a problem: CBO warned last June that spending more on TRICARE "could require reductions in spending for other defense programs, such as the procurement and maintenance of weapon systems."

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