Defense

Trump says he has rejected Pentagon proposal to slash military health care

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President Trump said Monday night that he rejected a proposal from the Pentagon to cut military health care by $2.2 billion during the pandemic. 

The president tweeted his rebuke hours after Politico reported that Department of Defense officials were suggesting cutting health care over the next five years as part of Secretary Mark Esper’s cost-cutting initiatives. 

“A proposal by Pentagon officials to slash Military Healthcare by $2.2 billion dollars has been firmly and totally rejected by me,” Trump tweeted. “We will do nothing to hurt our great Military professionals & heroes as long as I am your President. Thank you!”

The Pentagon did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Under the proposal, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness would need to save $2.2 billion in military health, a number officials settled on after months of discussions during the cost-cutting review, a defense official told Politico.

Two other senior defense officials told the news outlet that the effort was rushed and would impact the 9.5 million active-duty personnel, military retirees and their families who depend on the military health care. 

Esper and his deputies reportedly argued that the private health care system can fill in the gap of the budget cuts. 

The military health system runs hundreds of facilities worldwide and operates Tricare, which allows members to receive civilian health care outside of the military network.

Pentagon spokesperson Lisa Lawrence told Politico that the system “continually assesses how it can most effectively align its assets in support of the National Defense Strategy.”

“The MHS will not waver from its mission to provide a ready medical force and a medically ready force,” Lawrence said. “Any potential changes to the health system will only be pursued in a manner that ensures its ability to continue to support the Department’s operational requirements and to maintain our beneficiaries access to quality health care.”

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 defense budget cuts Department of Defense Donald Trump Mark Esper Military military health care Pandemic Pentagon

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