7 January 2004

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The FRA, representing 130,000 members of the U. S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard serving on active duty, in the reserves, or in a retired status, strongly opposes any Office of Management and Budget (OMB) or Department of Defense (DoD) proposal to alter the TRICARE Mail Order Pharmacy program for the retired military community. The current pharmacy benefit should be fully funded and maintained at its current status. Any changes will be looked upon with disfavor by the military community.

On 16 December 2003, OMB circulated a provision within Program Budget Decision (PBD) 731 proposing increased cost-shares for the TRICARE Pharmacy benefit, and initiating retiree co-pays for drugs obtained in military hospitals and clinics. The plan boasted that this "earned benefit" could be transformed into a money-maker with estimated FY 2005 revenue at $728.3 million and annual revenue increases that would reach nearly $1 billion by FY 2009.

OMB has since shelved the proposal, and DoD has opted to study the co-pay issue for the FY 2006 budget. Nevertheless, such recommendations send shockwaves through a military retired community that is two-thirds enlisted earning an average of less than $1,500 monthly in retired pay. I respectfully urge you to express public support for the preservation of the retired military community' s TRICARE Pharmacy benefit.

With sincere appreciation for your consideration of this request, I am,

Respectfully yours,
JOSEPH L. BARNES
National Executive Secretary

JLB:ms:teg