Metro-East News

Roger That: Some Tricare premiums set to soar in 2016

Health care premiums for the adult children of military personnel and retirees will increase next year by 26 percent to 47 percent, depending on the type of coverage, Tricare officials announced Wednesday, according to Air Force Times.

The monthly payment for beneficiaries using Tricare Young Adult Prime will rise from the current payment of $208 to $306 starting Jan. 1, while the monthly premium for those on Tricare Young Adult Standard will increase from $181 to $228.

Tricare officials say the increases are needed because the program must be “cost-neutral to the government,” and after doing an analysis of the program's claims data from the past several years, Tricare officials found that the rates needed to be raised for the program to pay for itself.

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Defense Secretary Ash Carter has amplified his call for better security at military recruiting stations and other small, remote facilities, issuing new directives aimed at preventing another attack like this summer's deadly shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Efforts will include more training alongside local law enforcement, accelerating use of extra “physical security enhancements,” and improving mass notification alerts meant to inform local authorities and other nearby military personnel when there are specific threats or attacks already unfolding, according to Military Times.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is overpaying hundreds of millions of dollars to schools and veterans under the post-9/11 GI Bill when students drop a class or leave school, letting $416 million go uncollected in fiscal 2014 alone, a newly released report says, according to a story in the Washington Post.

The program works like this: When a veteran enrolls, the government sends money for tuition and fees to the school and begins sending housing and living stipends to the veteran. If a student drops or fails to complete a class, the VA is supposed to scale back the benefits accordingly. The student becomes responsible for any overpayments.

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DefenseOne is reporting that Lockheed Martin’s new modular fiber lasers now convert fully 40 percent of input energy to output, which means that — along with advances in manufacturing, targeting, and size-weight-power minimization — the company’s now talking about putting a laser weapon on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“We are absolutely looking at concepts for integration,” Robert Afzal, the company’s senior fellow of laser systems and sensors, told reporters yesterday.

Unlike solid-state bulk lasers that rely on crystal components, or powerful but unstable chemical lasers, fiber lasers generate their beams inside fiber optics, making the device more flexible and efficient. Afzal compared it to a prism that works in reverse. Whereas a prism takes light and fractures it into beams of different colors, a fiber laser merges several beams into one.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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