WASHINGTON, D.C. (09/30/2013) – As Obamacare and the nation's federal spending are debated on Capitol Hill ahead of the Monday midnight deadline, there is another deadline looming that is not related to either.
Thousands of veterans will be losing their current health care plan and will be forced to join a plan that could nearly double their out of pocket costs, according to Kathy Beasley, a retired navy captain who now works as the deputy director of government relations at the Military Officers Association of America.
"The department is looking to save money, and this is one among many programs that they've identified that they could recoup some dollars," Beasley said.
Beasley said approximately 175,000 veterans will be forced to switch from their current military TRICARE Prime health insurance plan, to TRICARE Standard, which she says will not only cost more, but will disrupt the "continuity of care" since some healthcare providers might not accept the new insurance.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is helping Beasley advocate on behalf of the affected veterans by pushing the issue on Capitol Hill. He is working on legislation that would allow veterans who already have TRICARE Prime to keep it, by allowing them to be "grandfathered" into their current plan.
"We always talk about how brave they are and committed they are. One way elected officials can prove that we're worthy of that valor is to protect a benefit like this that is affordable and also delivers good health care," Casey said.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is weighing in too. He said we owe it to our veterans to make sure they stay covered under the plan they were promised.
"The deal was you serve your country for that many years, you get decent health care and we need to live up to that obligation, pure and simple," Brown said.
While lawmakers work on a bill that would allow current TRICARE Prime members to keep their insurance plan, Beasley is closely monitoring the effort from her office in Old Town, VA.
"These people were promised to be able to have this option," Beasley said. "To disrupt that, essentially that promise that was made to them, is not the right thing to do."
Though lawmakers and lobbyists are pushing for this legislation to pass, none of them think it will happen before the October 1st deadline.