Out-of-Pocket Costs Likely to Rise for Military Families

The belt-tightening measures proposed by the Pentagon were hardly embraced in the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bills crafted by the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee over the past several weeks, but service members and their families likely will face reduced compensation levels after the annual defense policy bill is enacted.

The federal subsidy for military commissaries is largely protected, with the Senate ignoring DOD’s request to trim the direct subsidy by $200 million in FY 2015. The House, however, called for reducing the federal contribution by $100 million. The department’s plan calls for slashing the annual subsidy from $1.4 billion to $400 million over three years.

The House, however, rebuffed the Obama administration’s plan to slow the growth in the basic allowance for housing (BAH). Under that proposal, adopted by Senate Armed Services, growth in the allowance would decline over three years until the BAH covers only 95 percent of average rental costs, rather than 100 percent. Also the cost of renter’s insurance no longer would be covered by the BAH under DOD’s cost-cutting plan, reported Stars and Stripes.

In two other cases, the Senate committee also accepted DOD’s austerity measures — military pay raises would be capped at 1 percent and co-pays for prescription drugs would increase.  

Because the House fails to identify alternative cuts to slow the growth of personnel costs, there’s a good chance House-Senate conferees will accept the Senate’s recommendations, according to the story.

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