I can't think of a better, more comprehensive health plan, and [it's way beyond what I would have dreamt would have occurred this year," said Dr. H. James T. Sears, executive director of the TriCare Management Activity.
His top press spokesman, Air Force Colonel Frank Cumberland, used more colorful imagery, describing an "incredible Tsunami of new [health] benefits" about to wash over 1.4 million Medicare-eligible military retirees.
They were referring to two major healthcare initiatives—TriCare Senior Pharmacy and TriCare-for-Life—enacted into law on 30 October 2000. The first is a greatly expanded prescription drug benefit set to begin in April 2001. Six months later, the second program will transform TriCare into a true cradle-to-grave benefit. The promise of lifetime military medical care, made to generations of careerists since World War II, has been restored.
Congress approved both initiatives as part of the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (H.R. 4205). Sears credited prominent players, such as Senator John Warner (R-VA) and Army General Henry Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.