U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and Congressman Mark Amodei (NV-2) today announced language will be included in this year's defense authorization bill requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to detail and address upcoming changes to TRICARE Prime. The plan is based on legislation introduced by Amodei and Congressman Greg Walden (OR-2) in the House and an amendment introduced by Heller and adopted into the National Defense Authorization Act in the Senate.
"Providing the best care to our military personnel, their families, and veterans is one of our nation's most important responsibilities. Northern Nevada military families deserve to know whether their TRICARE coverage will change, which is why I urged the conference to include my amendment in the final bill. I look forward to this legislation becoming law so our military men and women receive the answers they deserve," said Senator Heller.
The language requires DOD to assess the increased cost and overall impact TRICARE changes will have on military retirees and their families, and, within 90 days, inform Congress of its plan to provide them with a smooth transition.
"At the bare minimum, military retirees and their families in Nevada are owed an explanation by DOD. They deserve to know what is going on and they deserve to hear it directly from DOD and not from media reports," said Amodei. "Our military retirees and their families earned these benefits and DOD needs to tell them how they are going to continue to have access to high-quality health care."
Passage of the defense authorization is expected to be finalized by the House and Senate and sent to the President to be signed by the end of the year.
News reports indicate that DOD plans to eliminate TRICARE Prime in several areas, starting April 1, 2013, including Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Northern Nevada, and Oregon. Beneficiaries in the affected areas would be moved to TRICARE Standard, which would increase out-of-pocket costs and could reduce access to primary care providers for military retirees and their families throughout Northern Nevada. DOD has yet to publicly announce any details regarding the switch, nor has it responded to Amodei's and Heller's requests for more information.