AUSA President: TRICARE Fee Hikes, Higher Co-Pays Hottest Issue Facing Retirees. 

4/20/2009 

The hottest issue facing the military retiree community is a future increase in TRICARE fees and co-payments for those under 65, the president of the Association of the United States Army told members of the Chief of Staff’s Retiree Council April 19.

            Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., said, “We don’t think it will take place this year and possibly not until these wars end.”  But he added that AUSA views such moves as an “erosion of benefits.”

            “The average Army retiree is an E-6, makes about $1,200 a month, pre-tax.  We do not want to see an increase” in fees and co-pays.  Sullivan said AUSA and other organizations have successfully blocked past Defense Department efforts to implement  these increases.

            He listed TRICARE for Life, improved pharmacy benefits and waiver of Medicare Part B as recent legislative successes and pledged the Association’s continuing efforts to support retirees on Capitol Hill.

            Sullivan said these efforts include working to eliminate the Survivor Benefit Program offset, the development of compatible electronic health records for the Defense Department and the VA and reducing the age to 55 when members of the reserve components can begin receiving retiree pay.

            Adding, AUSA also is working to ensure “retirees are considered in the BRAC process.”

            Speaking to the council before it begins a week of deliberations at the Pentagon, he said, “Retirees are an important community for AUSA, now more than ever.” Twenty percent of AUSA’s membership are retirees.  “Once they sign up, they stayed signed up.”

            He said the Association sends representatives to retiree appreciation days and others events involving retirees and veterans.  “We are committed to supporting you” inside and outside Washington.