A House panel plans Wednesday to prohibit any increase in health-care premiums for working-age military retirees, thwarting — again — a push by the Pentagon to hold down costs by raising fees as soon as Oct. 1.
But the long debate over the military health program known as Tricare is likely to continue for months as Congress wrangles over whether to risk offending one of Washington’s most powerful constituencies to address the military’s exploding health costs.
The personnel panel of the Armed Services Committee also plans to approve a 1.6 percent raise for service members that would take effect Jan. 1, the same increase in the Obama administration’s defense budget for next year.
The Defense Department also would be required to reduce its growing military health costs by consolidating medical commands in the armed services. Also scheduled for passage Wednesday is a congressional review of the cost of having contractors provide medical treatment for the military, another potential path to saving money.