Tom Coburn’s plan to screw military retirees

| July 25, 2011

Washington Post reports that Senator Tom Coburn is coming for our Tricar. I read the article yesterday, but I was so pissed, I had to wait until this morning to write about it. I tried to call Coburn’s office to verify these statements, but the call went straight to the vmail which is apparently full.

Here’s what the Post quoted;

Former defense secretary Robert M. Gates proposed raising Tricare Prime enrollment fees for single retirees from $230 a year to $260 a year and fees for retiree families from $460 a year to $520 a year. Coburn wants the fees to be much higher and more in line with private-sector health plans.

Another comparison he makes is to other federal government workers whose plans are not as cheap. A medical doctor, Coburn told reporters last Monday: “Nobody in the country, as a single person working 20 years for the government, should be able to get health care for $250 a year. Nobody was ever promised that, and nobody should be able to do that.”

You’re right, Coburn, nobody was promised healthcare for $250/year. We were promised free health care. For life. In exchange for our health and our youth. That’s why I stayed in the Army when I was being paid $256/month. that’s why I reenlisted for the Army when I was promoted to Sergeant and got a whopping $22/month raise for my family of four. It was the free health care that kept me in – knowing my wife and I were covered for life.

[H]e wants to increase the enrollment fee for single retirees to “approximately $2,000 per year and $3,500 for a family.” At the same time he would limit out-of-pocket expenses at $7,500 for those retirees with families. He thinks these changes could save $11.5 billion a year.

His Tricare for life would require retirees to pay up to $550 for half the initial cost not covered by Medicare and then up to $3,025, after which all costs would be paid by Tricare. This change could save $4.3 billion a year.

How can the government get away with changing the contract they made with us 40 years ago after we paid off our portion of the contract? I don’t see anyone proposing the same increases in Medicaid – people who have never paid a penny, or a minute of their lives, for their health care expenses.

I understand that the government is in debt and I understand that they need to save money, but why is the focus on the folks who have no real voice and have no way to retaliate? Why isn’t Coburn looking at the savings of shutting down or drawing down the redundant functions of the Commerce Depart or the Education Department?

Whenever anyone is looking for savings in government spending, it’s always retirees, military or otherwise, who get hit. Clinton’s “balanced budget” was on the backs of military retirees’ healthcare and DoD’s manpower and training costs. Carter slashed military funding and didn’t “come to Jesus” until his last month in office. We’ve already been hit with co Cost of Living increases for two years in a row in our military pensions and Social Security. Our income taxes on those monies went up and now they want to take even more by hiking our health care costs? Where do we go to justice?

And where are the Democrats? They’re always quick to jump on anyone who goes after the benfits of welfare queens and drug dealers. So where is their support for the troops that I hear about so often?

Coburn’s number is 202-224-5754 if you can get through.

Category: Congress sucks, Veteran Health Care

Comments (26)

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  1. Old Trooper says:

    The Military and military retirees/Veterans have always been the low hanging fruit that gets picked first. When the left starts bellowing about government being cold heartless bastards if they even think about trimming back on welfare/medicaid, they never seem to have a problem with the government going after military personnel or retirees. A lot of people never learned about the Veteran uprising in the 30’s, when they made shanty towns in DC to protest the government backing out of their deal after WWI.

  2. QMC says:

    Wow, 4.3 Billion a year in savings. What is that now, an afternoon’s worth of Federal spending? Let’s screw over the one class of people who actually earned theirs up front.

    Where does this Senator get off comparing the military apples with the federal civilian oranges? The jobs do tend to be somewhat different.

  3. QMC says:

    P.S. What the heck has happened to Tom Coburn over the last few months? He acts like a man who has been shown incriminating photographs.

  4. LittleRed1 says:

    It’s the same mindset as not paying GM’s bond holders back in 09 and 10: we’re the Feds, we can change the contract if we don’t like it, nyah, nyah, neener, neener.

  5. USMC Steve says:

    I am a federal employee with the civil service and I pay more than $250.00 for my share of health care insurance every two months. I am also a military retiree, and was fraudulently promised free medical care for life if I gave the Corps 20 years of my life, and we all know how valid that is now. I never dealt with Tricare/Champus if I had to give them any money because I know what happens when you give the Government money in any way, shape, or form. It gets pissed away and you get fucked over.

    Coburn is an old line typical crooked republican who needs to find a real job. he isn’t all that different from the typical democrat out there.

  6. QMC says:

    I disagree that Coburn is a crook. He is just naive. The guy did develop a friendship with Teleprompter Jesus, after all.

    In any event, Coburn is a lame duck and all of these proposals are D.O.A. in the House anyways. What really mystifies me is why some Republicans are so willing to throw military cuts of any kind on the table before they have secured any cuts elsewhere. It’s a variation of the tax increases NOW, spending cuts LATER game they have lost repeatedly since the 1980s. If they are gonna toss us under the bus, the least they could do is get the Democrats to do the same to some of their favored constituents.

    The politics of this are so stupid. Exchange the party’s reputation as supporters of a strong military for some piffling budget savings and, well, from the looks of it, absolutely nothing else. I know Coburn has no worries about re-election as he is retiring, but one would think the rest of GOP can muster up enough acumen to tell him that no, a handful of magic beans is not sufficient compensation for alienating a reliably conservative voting bloc.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This really burns me up. Money is no problem when it comes to funding the war but by God it is a different story when it comes to paying for the aftermath. My retirement check isn’t much the way it is. Why don’t they just cut the BS and just take it all.

  8. melony says:

    Coburn’s Fax number: 202-224-6008

  9. Got through. Encourage the rest of you to try.

  10. NHSparky says:

    People ask me why I got out after 12 years instead of doing the full 20. Shit like this just validates that decision I made lo those many years ago.

  11. AW1 Tim says:

    I guess they’re hoping that veterans will simply quit trying, become unemployed and druggies and alcoholics and homeless. Then the Government will step up and become the mighty savior.

    It’s the same old politics of using and abusing the soldiers that has been going on since the days of the Roman’s.

    Kipling wrote all about it both “Tommy” and “Last of the Light Brigade”. The latter is a pretty damning write on the way Britain treated her veterans, and it isn’t at all far off from where most things are likely headed.

  12. Doc Bailey says:

    Tim, I wish Kipling was required reading.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

  13. QMC says:

    Read the asinine comments from readers of the Washington Post, if you have the stomach for it.

    They are almost universally willing to countenance screwing military retirees as long as the rich also have to pay higher taxes. And those are the reasonable ones. There is that usual cohort of ignoramuses offended at the notion that someone might actually get a “generous” pension after a mere twenty years of service, the usual proposals to put us all on Reservists’ pensions, and the usual handful of alleged veterans rogering up for this “reasonable” proposal.

  14. Doc Bailey says:

    So I called their office. Apparently 20 year Retireees would not be effected, this is largely targeted at the people who only do five years or so, and this was apparently one of many proposals, but it would not come into effect, or be voted on until other measures are taken. Thats what the Aid said. I passed along how insulting it is to some of those who worked for peanuts, only to have a promise broken. Apparently they have gotten MANY calls on this issue.

  15. AW1 Tim says:


    Yup…. Kipling nailed it in his poems. The following is the last verse of “The Last of the Light Brigade”. I find it as telling as “Tommy”

    “O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
    Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
    Our children’s children are lisping to “honour the charge they made – ”
    And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!”

  16. ROS says:

    Well then, using the “logic” employed by those imbeciles at the Compost, I daresay I should propose that the military should form a union in order to procure their benefits. Let’s see how that goes over.

  17. Open Channel D says:

    5 year veterans are not eligible for Tricare. They may receive VA care, and, if disabled 100%, can be treated at an MTF.
    This most assuredly affects 20 year retirees. And he is not alone in his thinking. The new military health care czar, the former governor of Maine, thinks $5-7 grand a year is about right for what it should cost military retirees for healthcare.
    I have been in Navy Medicine for 37 years, enlisted and officer, and I work at TMA. I’m retiring next year and I have very low expectations about getting my healthcare from Tricare.

  18. JustPlainJason says:

    I wonder how many kittens they would shit if they had the less than 1% who served show up in DC?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Contacted Coburn’s office today as he is one of my senators. His office help had no clue what I was talking about. The young woman I talked to recited some talking points and had no clue how to respond to any of the questions I asked of her. Then to add insult to injury, she thanked me for my service. I am so sick of that empty meaningless phrase: “Thank you for your Service.” Sen Coburn has completely lost any support from me as has the Republican Party, they are no better than the Democrats. We have been sold out by both major political parties as well as the major veteran’s organizations. And more importantly the public could care less about us.

  20. TopGoz says:

    Gee, how many billions could be saved if they simply canceled all pensions for past and future members of Congress who served less than 20 years in office? Or who were fired (read: voted out)? How much could be saved if they merely reduced those very generous pensions our lords and masters get to 50% of their base pay rather than 100%? I think it’s long past time for some serious introspection on the part of Congress. I won’t be holding my breath, however.

  21. Doc Bailey says:

    any of you ever run into pension hunters? Marry a soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine for 10 years and divorce him you get 1/2 his pension. you can do that as many times as you want. Have you ever heard of any civilians doing that?

    Now How many of you have seen someone who has done 6 years in the Army? With the Op-temp the way it is, some of those guys get EFFED up. never mind that .5% of the population are essentially expected to drop everything (including their mortal lives) to save the other 99.5% at the drop of a hat or the whim of the POTUS. The whole thing is insulting.

  22. Arrow says:

    Exactly Doc. Tom Coburn need not wave his flag of patriotism in front of me ever again. His statements prove he’s just another elitist snob with no prior military service that takes for granted the sacrifice of our Warriors and their families.

  23. DaveO says:

    Folks: the source of this story is the Washington Post.


    When has the WAPO ever just told a story involving politics, a leader in the GOP, and the budget – absolutely straight?

    It’s like rooting for Boehner’s plan to cut a trillion dollars, only to find out it’s only a cut to NEW spending that projected at over seven trillion dollars over ten years.

    Seriously folks. Consider the source, first.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Well, he isn’t running for a third term, but he’s still a doctor – I’m thinking he wants to ensure that the pay is still good when he returns to the fold.

  25. DaveO says:

    Anonymous: Coburn delivers babies – the pay is excellent, so he doesn’t need to see any military retirees in the stirrups.

    Scanned/read Back in Black’s summary, methodology, and section on DOD, plus the Quadrennial review on military compensation. Not mentioned: the VA, disabled/unemployable vets/retirees, vets/retirees injured/wounded while in service, and vets/retirees beyond “working-age.” What else I couldn’t find: the timeline for implementation: this year only, the next 10 years or ??? Does this effect current retirees, folks who mid-career as of today, today’s recruits/prospects, or ???

    Of the one demographic of retirees mentioned (“working-age,” which also assumed employed/employable), there are 3 choices: $3500/year, not more than 15% of retired pay, and free if one goes to a military treatment facility.

    I understand folks are upset that our government is running a medical insurance policy business, and wants to increase the price like any free-market entity. But why the outrage when a retiree can get the same medical treatment for free at an MTF, or for free at the VA.

    Another way of looking at free healthcare is that it isn’t free. Someone – you – is paying for it in taxes. With TRICARE, you pay for it all, but call some of the payments co-pay, other payments are premiums, and the rest taxes. So unless you’re getting tex refunds, you’re already paying it all, anyway.

    If you’re looking to reduce costs, then chuck the TRICARE and its premiums and co-pays and use the MTF and VA.

    I thought more folks would be upset at the closing of DODES, Commissaries, the PX/BX/NEX/MCX stores, and Tuition Assistance.