Ryan to Congress: TRICARE Status Quo Unacceptable

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The president of MOAA, retired Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on personnel today, urging Congress to carefully consider any changes to the TRICARE program and military health care system that potentially would have a negative impact on the military medical readiness and career retention required by the all-volunteer force.

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Vice Adm. Norb Ryantestifies before the SASC subcommittee on personnel

MOAA has consistently stated that the largest barrier to a truly efficient and highly reliable heath care organization is the three-service system.

The president of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), retired Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, USN, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on personnel today, urging Congress to carefully consider any changes to the TRICARE program and military health care system that potentially would have a negative impact on the military medical readiness and career retention required by the all-volunteer force.

During the hearing on the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission’s (MCRMC’s) military health benefits recommendations, Ryan welcomed proposed changes to the MHS, saying the commission, Congress, and the military community were all seeking the same objective: “a health care delivery system that is far more efficient, effective and sustainable than the current system.” He continued, “I believe we all agree that the status quo is not acceptable.”

Ryan explained MOAA’s divergence with the commission’s position, saying the association believes problems with TRICARE such as rising costs, barriers to access, and lack of customer service in certain areas “can be addressed in a systemic manner without resorting to its elimination.”    

“MOAA has consistently stated that the largest barrier to a truly efficient and highly reliable heath care organization is the three-service system,” said Ryan. “In the 1980s Congress demanded, over the strong objection of the Pentagon, that the services fight wars jointly. It is now time for Congress to insist that the services do the same immediately in the medical area.”

Ryan went on to say, “Study after study has concluded that a unified medical command that has a single budget authority over the three military systems will yield significant cost savings and efficiencies that will make the military system one we can all be proud of.”

Ryan discussed a recent MOAA survey of 7,500 beneficiaries, noting “eight out of 10 prefer TRICARE to a health plan similar to what federal civilians use.” He cautioned Congress to “take the time necessary to ensure all stakeholders understand the second- and third-order effects” of contemplated changes.

Ryan reiterated that out of the “commission’s 15 recommendations, the two that propose dramatic changes to both military retirement and health care programs could have serious impact on the career retention required in the all-volunteer force.” He continued, “Both recommendations produce a negative effect on the pocketbook of patriotic Americans for whom the government needs to serve for a career of 20 years or greater.”

“If Congress and the administration decided to adopt these two very financially impactful recommendations from the commission,” Ryan concluded, “MOAA believes the risk to the quality of the all-volunteer force would be significant.”

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About MOAA:
Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is the nation’s largest officers association with more than 380,000 members from every branch of service, including active duty, retired, National Guard, Reserve, and former officers and their families and survivors. MOAA is a nonprofit and politically nonpartisan organization and an influential force in promoting a strong national defense. MOAA represents the interests of servicemembers and their families in every stage of their lives and careers, and for those who are not eligible to join MOAA, Voices for America’s Troops is a nonprofit MOAA affiliate that supports a strong national defense. For more information, visit http://www.moaa.org or http://www.voicesfortroops.org/.

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