In approving its version of the FY 2017 defense authorization bill this week, the House Armed Services Committee included big changes for the military health care system.
On the TRICARE fee front, the bill would apply a new fee structure similar to that proposed by the Pentagon for future service entrants, beginning in 2018.
However, the bill would grandfather currently serving and retired members and families against the large fee hikes proposed in the Pentagon’s FY 2017 defense budget.
The bill proposes no changes for TRICARE For Life or TRICARE Prime. It envisions chang- ing the current TRICARE Standard program to a preferred provider system with flat-dollar copays for most doctor visits.
Retired members and families wishing to stay in this updated version of TRICARE Standard (which would be renamed TRICARE Preferred) would need to enroll annually (no enrollment is required at present). An annual enrollment fee of $100/$200 (single/family) will be required of currently retired members on TRICARE Preferred, but wouldn’t start until 2020 – once DoD demonstrates it has improved its capacity to provide timely access to quality care.
The most dramatic change would involve placing all military treatment facilities (MTFs) under the direction of the Defense Health Agency, effective Oct. 1, 2018, for purposes of unified policy, administration, and budgeting. MOAA has long supported this proposal based on the cost and inefficiency of building military health care programs around three separate sys- tems for each of the services.
The bill also establishes a wide variety of requirements intended to enhance beneficiary ac- cess to care. This includes extended hours at MTF’s for primary care, providing urgent care until 11 P.M., and authorizing unlimited access to urgent care without a referral. The proposal also creates metrics for quality of care, wait times, provider-to-beneficiary ratios, and provider productivity.
In addition, the bill would authorize military facilities to sell durable medical equipment (e.g., hearing aids) at cost to family members of retirees.
All in all, MOAA supports the HASC’s balanced approach to reforming the military’s health care delivery system and especially appreciates the Committee’s rejection of the large fee increases proposed in the DoD budget.
See more at: http://www.moaa.org/Content/Take-Action/Top-Issues/Currently-Serving/ Military-Health-Care-Overhaul.aspx?utm_source=Legis&utm_medium=email&utm_content=03&utm_campaign=HCOverhaul#sthash. For more information, visit the TFL website.