BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 1540) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for military activities of the Department of Defense and for military construction, to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes:
Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Chair, I rise today to express my concern over a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that would limit the access of certain military retirees to the TRICARE Uniformed Services Family Health Plan (USFHP).
As you know, USFHP has been an extremely popular program within the Military Health System since its introduction in 1981, serving more than 115,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families 16 states, including more than 11,000 in Washington state. USFHP consistently earns a 90 percent satisfaction rating among its enrollees--by far the highest among military beneficiary programs. In addition to its success and popularity, this program plays an integral component in the Department of Defense (DoD) meeting its commitment to provide health care to those who have served our country in uniform.
The provision included in this year's Defense Authorization bill would terminate health care services under the plan when beneficiaries reach the age of 65 and become eligible to transfer to Medicare. Over one third of all USFHP beneficiaries are currently over 65 and are taking advantage of the USFHP managed care structure. Removing them from the program could undermine the highly effective disease management and prevention aspects of the USFHP, not to mention potentially ending longstanding patient-doctor relationships due to the change in coverage.
USFHP is a fully capitated program, providing quality and efficient care to beneficiaries. Even recently, Congress highlighted the effectiveness of USFHP in the 111th DoD authorization bill, while directing DoD to examine opportunities to improve the broader TRICARE Program. Additionally last year the Director of TRICARE Management engaged USFHP to assist in educating the rest of the DoD system about their highly successful prevention and disease management programs.
As we look to improve the quality of care while addressing high costs, we can learn from effective programs like USFHP, which provides managed care and includes a focus on preventative care and managing chronic illnesses to improve the lives of our service members and potentially creating savings in the long run. Transferring beneficiaries to Medicare will only shift costs, rather than improve the quality of care for those who have served our country.
In light of this, and the success this program has had in providing for those who have served in uniform, I wish to reiterate my support for USFHP. I hope we can avoid major alterations to the US Family Health Plan and continue to offer this service to all eligible beneficiaries, including those over the age of 65, who I believe have earned a right to this high quality program through service to our country.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT