Extra Protection for TSRx
Paraphrased from article on MOAA’s web site, Legislative Update for 12/05/03
Last week, MOAA reported that Congress had passed H.R. 1, the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003. MOAA continues to hear concerns from members that they fear this new benefit may lead the Defense Department to force TRICARE Senior Pharmacy (TSRx) beneficiaries into the federal program.
The TSRx benefit is set in law in Title 10 and it would take legislation to change it. While MOAA believes that neither DoD nor Congress intends to change the TSRx program, MOAA is pleased to see that Rep. Ed Schrock (R-VA) has introduced H.R. 3390, a bill to further protect the pharmacy interests of Medicare-eligible military retirees.
If enacted, H.R. 3390 would bar Medicare-eligible military beneficiaries from paying higher out of pocket costs than other TRICARE beneficiaries. H.R. 3390 ensures that Medicare-eligible military retirees will remain on equal footing with active duty and under age-65 retiree beneficiaries—currently, both pharmacy benefits are the same.
Last summer, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) introduced similar legislation to protect the interests of Federal workers under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program. His H.R. 2631 sailed through the House, but similar Senate legislation (S. 1369, introduced by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI)) still awaits action.
H.R. 3390 reaffirms the government's commitment not to reduce or eliminate pharmacy benefits to military retirees now that a Medicare pharmacy benefit has been enacted. Providing a Medicare prescription drug benefit for the broader population does not change the fact that military retirees earned TSRx benefits through a career of service and sacrifice to the nation.
MOAA supports passage of H.R. 3390. To invite your Representative to become a cosponsor, visit MOAA's Web site at http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/bills/.
On Friday, November 21, 2003, Sen. Mary Landrieu introduced S. 1916, an updated version of her previous Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) bill (S. 401). Both bills would phase out the age-62 SBP annuity reduction over 10 years. But S. 1916 includes a new feature - an open season provision that would allow currently unenrolled retirees to participate in the new improved program. Open season participants would pay an added premium penalty proportional to the number of years since their retirement.
This new bill is important to our hopes of winning authority for an SBP fix in next year's Budget Resolution. Last year, the Budget Committees rebuffed our efforts to secure a five-year phase-out of the annuity reduction, primarily because of the $7.6 billion 10-year cost. At the time, some supporters on the Budget Committee indicated we could have a chance if we could develop a somewhat lower-cost bill.
S. 1916, with a 10-year phase-out and the open season, should have a better chance of inclusion in the next Budget Resolution. The open season would save the government money for many years because more retirees would have premiums deducted from their retired pay - thus reducing retired pay outlays. It also would encourage coverage of more spouses/survivors.
We're grateful to Sen. Landrieu for taking the lead in the Senate to help find a way to win real relief for military widows.
Page 1| Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 8