AS many of you know I went to Washington last week to discuss some disturbing changes that are being forced upon us by TRI-CARE, DOD’s medical program for Active Duty and Retired Military members and their families. My appointment was with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a man I helped to get elected so as to get rid of another anti-veteran senator, Kay Hagan. I was told that Senator Tillis would “stop by for a few minutes” during the meeting but that I would be talking to a member of his Veterans Affairs team, Bill Bode. Ok, at least I am getting to see someone and will be able to at least look Tillis in the eye and tell him a bit of the problem. This was not to happen as Senator Tillis did not show up, and we know why now that the CR has been passed.
The meeting started and I introduced myself and gave a bit of my history…22 year US Army, Retired, life long GOP member…yada yada yada. Then got down to the subject. Outlined the problem for him and even had flow charts showing the way HE gets his prescriptions filled, and the way in which WE used to, taking maybe a few hours from seeing the Doctor to getting our meds. Then outlined the way in which WE must do it now, especially if you can not take the generics that the Federal Government is forcing upon us. The very process that I am now stuck at, and some of you may be as well. Getting the forms that DOD says we have to have filled in by the Doctor so I can mail them in to get permission from some clerk at DOD to take. Instead of a few hours I am now at, and showed Mr Bode, 23 days AFTER downloading the forms. I stressed that we must now, after getting a new Rx from our Doctor, fined out if it is an allowed medicine and, if not, download the forms and return to our doctor’s office to get them filled in and await for them to be completed. His reply, “Well they’ve always required pre-authorization” to which I replied that I had been taking some of these for over 4 years and had no problem to now. No reply from Mr. Bode on that.
Then I pointed out the newly minted decision by Tri-Care to charge us FULL price if we get named brand medicines filled at a local pharmacy, something we could do with a copay up till now. I added up the full price costs of my diabetes medicines and showed him the actual costs from the pharmacy, as quoted by Tricare, to be over $7,000.00 for a 1 month supply. This all being done without warning from Tricare. I told him about how an E5 at the local military base changed my prescription and, even though was informed I can not tolerate the Metformin (generic) told me I either took it or nothing. Showed ample evidence (I had the modified prescription order) to that fact and was basically blown off on it.
When he mentioned that the “administration wanted these changes” I showed him the article from Military.com in which Senator Graham is quoted as saying “we need these copay increases to ensure DOD’s Pharmacy program remain viable”, and that Grahams committee passed these in the Defense bill. That is when I found out that Tillis is also on that committee and voted FOR these changes as well, something my research missed. That is when it went to an adversarial meeting as I looked him in the eye and asked if “my government is trying to kill me?” and actually asked “are you trying to kill me?” We are on some medications that, if stopped or changed without the supervision of a doctor, the result could be death.
Went on to question the other changes listed in DOD’s budget fir Tricare in 2016. Higher copays across the board for Retirees to include a Copay for treatment received in a Military Treatment Facility. His only reply to that was that “Those were in the Defense Bill that Obama vetoed.” The only time since he took office I actually agree with Obama, and I told Mr Bode that, word for word. As the meeting ended he promised to have the Greenville NC office man get in touch with me on Monday (today), which is why I waited to write anything, giving that last measure of Hope, that last chance. Well, it is now 6:00 pm on Monday. I have kept my phone glued to me all day and even skipped a few calls I should have made to make sure I could receive the call from Greenville. Did I? NOPE!!!!
Did anything good come out of me taking my time to go to see Senator Tillis on these issues? Well, I did give them some information they didn’t have (he kept copies), but other than that, no. I have to report that mission failure. I did learn that Thom Tillis was in on the betrayal of every retired Veteran out there, including me. As I was there seeking information and assistance Thom Tillis was in the process, along with Lindsey Graham, putting together votes to pass, under the guise of a Trade Bill, the 2 year Continuing Resolution that gives Obama and DOD the green light to bring about the changes listed within the DOD budget plans for 2016.
My fellow retirees, we have been sold out by both the Administration AND the people we helped elect to stop them. As with every time this country has gotten into trouble financially they have decided to make the 3% of us that put on the uniform and took up arms in her service and defense pay for it. My only “feel good moment” was when I asked Mr. Bode how could they take money from us, saying it was “needed savings” but turn right around and give it to the people we were, and are, asked to fight? The so called “refugees” they are now flooding our shores with!!!
What can we do? Other than raise hell with them everyday, by writing and calling, or going to their town hall meetings and getting the word out, or writing an article and hoping it pisses enough people off to get them to do the same? Unfortunately this experience has taught me the answer to that question is NOTHING, NADA, NOT A DAMNED THING, in the short term. In the long term, I urge everyone of you, your families and your friends to hold them accountable when they ask for your support again. Every person who voted for these changes took a shot at your and your families without thinking about what the consequences to you and yours would be. Everyone of them needs to be voted out of office as soon as possible. THAT is the only thing they, and those like them, will understand.
I am sorry, I thought I could make a difference. I failed ~MadVeteran