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John Kerry Keeps Promise to Funding Health Care for Military Retirees

by Pamela Leavey

Kerry amendment will restore funding to TRICARE cut by Bush budget.

Today, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) offered an amendment to restore funding for TRICARE, the Department of Defense healthcare program for servicemembers and their families. President Bush’s budget for next year includes a proposal to increase TRICARE fees and co-payments for military retirees under the age of 65 and their dependents.

“The cost of health care is spiraling out of control and too many families, children and seniors are going without the coverage they deserve. The last people to do without should be those who served,” Kerry said. “We can’t turn on backs on those who wore the uniform of this country. It breaks our longstanding promise to them, and it’s not who we are as Americans. We’ll keep faith with those Americans who served our country for twenty years or more—just as we do with every veteran. They didn’t ask to change the terms of their commitment to the military when things got tough, we shouldn’t be turning our backs on them now,” said Kerry.

Bush’s proposal would essentially triple fees for retired officers, double them for senior enlisted retirees, and demand more from every military retiree under the age of 65 who uses the TRICARE health care system. Kerry’s amendment restores the funding for TRICARE so that military retirees are not saddled with increased fees and co-payments.

In successive budget requests, the Bush administration has asked for increased fees and co-payments for veterans’ health care in an unmistakable effort to shift the burden of care from some veterans onto others while driving yet others out of the system. Their intent is no different here.

“TRICARE is a good program and we’re going to restore its funding. We’ll pay for this by closing corporate tax loopholes. This move to increase TRICARE fees by President Bush is just another sad example how this administration turns its back on our veterans and military families, and I won’t stand for it,” added Kerry.

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