House Passes Defense Authorization Bill
The House recently passed its version of the Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 4310). The cost of the approved provisions exceeds spending limits set by law, which has prompted the Obama Administration to threaten a veto of the measure.
The House version of the bill denies the drastic TRICARE fee increases requested by the Administration, which is good news for many military retirees. However, the bill does authorize higher pharmacy co-pays, but at levels below hikes requested by DoD and with provisions to limit future pharmacy co-pays to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). (DoD has the authority to increase co-pays without congressional approval.)
In addition to the provisions passed by the House Armed Services Committee, the House-approved version also includes language that prohibits the establishment of a commission that would propose changes to the military retirement benefit.
The fight to limit TRICARE and pharmacy costs and protect military retirement benefits then moved to the Senate, where the Senate Armed Services Committee and its subcommittees are expected to mark up their version of the bill next week.
Once both chambers pass their respective versions of the bill, a conference committee will be appointed to resolve differences. The final bill (conference report) must be approved by both chambers before it is sent to the President for his signature or veto.