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Final Democrat Health Care Legislation Threatens Coverage for 9.2 Million Military Personnel, Retirees & Families

March 21st, 2010 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Final Democrat Health Care Legislation Threatens Coverage for 9.2 Million Military Personnel, Retirees & Families

McKeon Welcomes Skelton Concerns about Flawed Senate Legislation

Washington, D.C.-U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, today welcomed concerns raised by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Missouri) that the Democrats’ final health care legislation would impact coverage for 9.2 million military personnel, retirees, and their families.  McKeon further demanded that the House Democratic leadership delay a final vote on the Senate legislation until language can be added that explicitly protects military families.    

“I welcome Chairman Skelton’s concerns, but we-as the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee-have a responsibility to assure our military personnel that their top-notch health care will remain intact before the House votes on final legislation.  The Chairman’s efforts are encouraging, but his leadership has decided to vote on a deeply flawed Senate bill,” said Rep. McKeon.

“We need to fix this problem immediately-before Congress passes and the President signs the legislation.  By forgoing the traditional legislative process, Democrat leaders in Congress-and the President who is pushing for immediate passage of the bill-have reneged on assurances that the Senate legislation would be fixed in a conference committee,” stated McKeon.

“Our military personnel deserve to know they will continue to receive the same level of care they so rightly deserve.  I look forward to working with the Chairman to include our common language in the annual defense authorization legislation; however, the damage could already be done if the Senate health care legislation becomes law,” concluded McKeon.

On March 18, 2010, Chairman Skelton issued a press release raising concerns about the Senate-passed legislation, stating: “Although the health care legislation passed by the House explicitly exempted TRICARE from being affected, the Senate bill did not. Unfortunately, the parliamentary rules of the reconciliation process did not allow for the inclusion of language that specifically protects these programs.  To reassure our nation’s service members and their families that their health coverage will remain unaffected by this, I will introduce legislation this week to explicitly state that TRICARE and the NAF health plans meet all requirements for individual health insurance; this language will also be included in this year’s national defense authorization bill.”

While McKeon disagrees with Chairman Skelton’s assertion that the House-passed legislation offered adequate protection for military families, he does agree that the Senate-passed legislation could jeopardize health care TRICARE beneficiaries.  Under the final Democrat health care bill, the 9.2 million military service members, retirees and family members who are covered under the Department of Defense’s TRICARE health plan might be forced to pick new coverage on the exchange-even if they are satisfied with their coverage.