Veterans discuss proposed TRICARE changes

TRICARE changes in Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Department of Defense is proposing to congress to change healthcare options under TRICARE.

Those with various TRICARE options will be one plan. This will increase some beneficiary costs, eliminate referrals and increased co-pays for pharmaceuticals.

Some veterans say the idea of changing the way TRICARE is right now effects lots of military people in Columbus.

"That issue is a major concern with my members, having over 700 members and majority of them are Vietnam Veterans. We have a few that are still alive that are WWII Veterans, Korean War Veterans," Sidney Smith said, Post 665 Post Commander.

Enrollment fees will also change in Jan. 2016.

The DOD says consolidating the existing plans would simplify TRICARE. There are some strong opinions about possible TRICARE changes.

"They are slowly taking away our benefits. I understand they got to balance the budget, but the Veterans are supposed to come first," explained Sidney Smith.

The Department of Defense is proposing to consolidate the various TRICARE options into one consolidated plan, and to increase several beneficiary costs.

"The major thing is they are changing the retirement age, then they are changing the percentage of what you get paid as a retiree," said Smith, who previously served in the Army.

Congress has not made these changes into law just yet. Among these changes, veterans would like to see other doctors outside of VA facilities and access to private physicians.

"That would lighten the load on the VA system due to the fact we have thousands of returning vets. My wait time to see my psychiatrist is once every three months," said Robert Taggart.

Smith says it may not be that easy.

"If you are more than 40 miles away from a VA facility that can treat you then you can got to a civilian doctor. The fine print says if you live in 40 miles of the CVAC, there's a catch 22, you can't go to civilian doctor, you have to go to the VA system," Smith said.

The DOD also proposed to congress to increase co-pay for medication and open season enrollment. The pharmacy costs will be phased in over 10 years.

For a detailed explanation on the proposed changes regarding TRICARE, click here.

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