Be careful the government does not dupe you

Over time, Americans have become immune to a commonplace practice of legislators: namely, to bury small, but provocative and impactful pieces of legislation in large, cumbersome bills that address major issues inclined to get the attention of the media. As a result, many issues get little attention until they impact someone’s life, and, even then most affected people have no idea to whom to complain.

My husband and I are being affected in just this way by an issue buried in HR 2810 — a 2,427-page document created by the House Armed Services Committee (a document otherwise called the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018). By way of context, my husband is an 89-year-old military retiree who currently suffers from Alzheimer’s, along with several other ailments — all of which require many medications.

Shortly after he became eligible for Medicare, he enrolled in the military option for supplemental insurance called Tricare for Life. An adjunct of Tricare for Life is the medication provider served by Express Scripts which fills prescription orders by mail for the most part with no co-pay.

Suddenly, very recently, the terms for the medications were changed, and we now must pay a co-pay of at least $7. Certainly this is not a hefty amount, and I’m certain that most of you readers pay much more. However, at our age, we must take many medications between the two of us; moreover, we regarded our arrangement with Tricare for Life and Express Scripts as the fulfillment of a promise to military retirees for their faithful service — a promise that would not be tampered with.

But it was tampered with in that 2,427 page HR 2810 bill that I referenced above such that our co-pay by 2027 will increase to $14 (although I guess we can count on being dead by then). Clearly, the information about our co-pay was hidden within that National Defense Authorization Act which, frankly, dealt primarily with military hardware.

In fact, it was buried so deep that when I called the White House Veterans’ Affairs Hotline to ask about it, no one knew that this change had occurred. My question was researched, and I received a return call, but is it not odd that the very people who should have the information at hand did not even know that this had occurred (the same was true when I called other numbers — such as AmVets)?

I bring all of this to your attention, first, so that if you have an opportunity to air my grievances with anyone in politics, you will. Second, I want you to see how tenuous your hold on any government promise may be. Consider Social Security! Think about Medicare! Think about how many issues that affect your lives can be surreptitiously slipped into Congressional bills without the public’s knowledge.

We can too easily be duped!

Mary K. Ventura