2010-11-26 / Top Stories

Weiner:Take Vet Cuts Off The Table

Following last week’s proposal for deep cuts to veterans’ health care and income by President Obama’s deficit commission, Representative Anthony Weiner and area veterans spoke out against the plan and called on the commission to take the vital benefits off the chopping block.

On November 10, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released its draft recommendations for budget cuts and tax increases to help reduce the U.S. deficit. Weiner says that the commission made a number of recommendations that would hurt seniors and those in the middle class, including cuts to everything from Social Security to Medicare.

But, Weiner continues, the panel’s recommended budget cuts and cost increases affecting veterans and their families would have a particularly acute impact on millions of American heroes who selflessly serve their country without asking for anything in return.

“The men and women serving in uniform who defend our country ask for little in return for their sacrifices. The least we can do is ensure that they have adequate health care and pay – and the deficit commission’s proposals would strike a dangerous blow to these necessary benefits,” Weiner said. “Tackling the deficit is an important task, but this is not the way to do it.”

Weiner says that some of the worst proposals include: Increases Enrollment Costs for “TRICARE,” the Military Health Care Program for 5.3 Million Vets

Currently, TRICARE-eligible enrollees (active-duty service members, their dependents, and military retirees) pay no standard enrollment fee and face only a modest enrollment fee for the TRICARE Prime plan, which offers expanded coverage for service members and their families.

Enrollment fees which are currently waived would increase to $120 per beneficiary for standard plans. For premium plans, enrollment would increase from $230 per beneficiary to $1,750.

Deductibles could also spike from $300 per beneficiary to nearly $1,000, and even pharmacy co-pays would be expected to increase five-fold from $3 to $15 for generics and nearly triple for brand name medications from $9 to $25. Increases Co-Pays for Low Income Vets

The commission proposes to increase the amount that vets who makes less than $30,000 a year would pay to get care at VA hospitals and doctors. Currently these vets are exempt from making co-pays for services including primary care physician visits, prescriptions, and medical procedures. Denies Vets Benefits Until Long After Retirement

Currently soldiers can begin collecting benefits right after they complete 20 years of service, whatever age they are. The Commission recommends lowering that bar to only ten years of service, but would only allow retirees to begin collecting at age 60.

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