Another Washington austerity themed report to be borne by those most vulnerable..... it never ends.....
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on Jun 16, 2014 titled, “Approaches to Reducing Federal Spending on Military Health Care,” which discusses several ways the Department of Defense (DoD) can save money in the $52 billion TRICARE health program. The TRICARE health program, is “an integrated system of military health care providers and regional networks of civilian providers.” According to the CBO, nearly 10 million people are offered health care through the program -- roughly 3% of the American population.
This report is the latest in a series the CBO has published over the years recommending ways to slash costs to the TRICARE program. Each new report is more alarmist than the previous one. For example in the Jun 2009 report titled, “The Effects of Proposals to Increase Cost Sharing in TRICARE,” they state:
“In general, health care costs—military and civilian—have grown more rapidly than prices in the economy as a whole. Inflation in the overall economy, as estimated by the gross domestic product index, has averaged 2 percent to 3 percent per year 2001..... civilian plans....have increased by more than 7 percent per year, on average, during the same period”Sounds reasonable there but now take a look at their most recent filing on costs:
“The cost....has increased rapidly as a share of the defense budget over the past decade, outpacing growth in the economy, growth in per capita health care spending in the United States, and growth in funding for DoD's base budget. Between 2000 and 2012, funding for military health care increased by 130 percent, over and above the effects of overall inflation in the economy.”Duh. In the 2009 report the CBO provided statistics which compares military health care costs with rising civilian health care costs, then just 5 years later, they infer the budget is exploding beyond control. Projections did not change suddenly between 2009 and 2014, so where did the 130% all of a sudden? Hint: These guys at the CBO are definitely paying attention to the political winds. The austerian crowd (Borg) has settled in and is thoroughly in control in Washington. To alarm Congress you toss in newly concocted large, incomprehensible numbers -- which CBO delivers.
For some perspective on dates, Congress expanded TRICARE eligibility for military retirees under a program called TRICARE For Life (TFL) in 2001, which also was the date the country engaged Afghanistan in conflict. Before this date, military retirees age 65+ and their family relied on Medicare for health care. This change effectively raised the number of enrollees, naturally raising the cost. Use the 2000 date like in their 2009 report, rates of increases sound reasonable. Use the 2001 date, like in their 2014 filing, costs are growing out of control.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD), the US spends 17.7% of GDP on health care. “The US spends two-and-a-half times more than the OECD average of $3339,” the OECD states. Between 2009-2011 per capita increases were 7% per year, which is much higher than the inflation rate.
The CBO report was written as if the military health care system was on an island without outside forces tugging at its costs. In fairness, they did show us this graph. It shows military health care spending for 2014 to be around 9%, a full 8.7% below national numbers. Hardly an exploding situation.
After reading this lengthy report one gets the impression the government, after all these years, refuses to acknowledge the true cost of war. There is not a single government led report that I know of which outlines the cause/effect of the wars on the combat men and women and their families. The “collective” creates reports, like from the CBO, to steer people away from the truth. The wars did not stay overseas, they came home with them. Ratesof suicide, mental illness, stress, alcohol abuse, drugs, etc.... among vets have risen since 2001 due to increased deployments. These problems came home to where the veteran lived.
So, what are the recommended military health care savings in the CBO report?
1 Better management of chronic diseases.Recommendations 1 and 2 were given one to two paragraphs to give the report a balanced look. A few millions of dollars would be saved. Phew! Recommendation 3, the one that shifts war costs to retired vets, was given a whole lot more text space, with many options to shaft veteran retirees. Recommendation #3 saves the DoD billions of dollars, just what the Borg “collective” is looking for.
2 More Effective Administration of the
Military Health Care System
3 Increased Cost Sharing for Retirees Who Use TRICARE
Since true war costs are not known the CBO and Borg “collective” can scheme to squeeze the military retiree. In their mind the wars are almost done so the government can absolve itself, kind of like a Catholic confessing his sins to a priest to cleans the past. The lengthy CBO report is really going after the approximately 800,000 military retires below the age of 62. As far as the Borg "collective" is concerned, the military retiree should pay for the wars the government borrowed money to execute.