Proposed agency offers savings

Defense officials have asked Congress to approve a new governance structure for the military health care system that, like higher TRICARE fees, would help to curb what, for a decade, have been runaway medical costs, officials explained. The centerpiece of the plan is to elevate the TRICARE Management Activity to a more powerful Defense Health […]

Budget may raise TRICARE costs

Out-of-pocket health care costs for military retirees and for users of the TRICARE retail pharmacy network would jump next October if Congress approves President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request delivered last week. Annual active duty pay raises also would be impacted but not until January 2015 when raise caps would begin and last three years. […]

Cuts to TRICARE Prime proposed

Tom Philpott Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has advised the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction to consider ending access to TRICARE Prime, the military’s popular managed care option, for working-age retirees and their families, to avoid spending cuts that would directly impact readiness. Unless at least seven of 12 super committee members agree on […]

Cuts could impact TRICARE users

Low reimbursements are the top reason physicians say they turn away beneficiaries who use TRICARE Standard, the military’s fee-for-service insurance option, or TRICARE Extra, the preferred provider option, according to TRICARE health care provider surveys. Access to health care for these two groups of beneficiaries could become an even bigger challenge thanks to the convoluted […]

Walgreens leaving Tricare pharmacy program

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CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Kwame Griffith, a graduate pharmacy intern at Walgreens in Clovis, enters orders into the Walgreens system Thursday. Liliana Castillo Just over 89,000 Tricare beneficiaries in New Mexico will be affected by Walgreens leaving the Tricare’s drug network. Walgreens says it will split with Express Scripts, the company that manages Tricare’s […]

Committee OKs TRICARE increase

The Senate Armed Services Committee has agreed with House colleagues to approve a small increase in TRICARE Prime enrollment fees for working-age retirees, and to allow these fees to be raised annually by the percentage cost-of-living adjustment applied to military retired pay. The vote ensures that TRICARE Prime enrollment fees for individual retirees under age […]

TRICARE young adult fees costly

Adult children of military members and retirees now can buy TRICARE health insurance coverage out to age 26, and that coverage can be purchased back to Jan. 1 this year. The cost is steep, however, with the premium set at $186 a month for coverage under the fee-for-service TRICARE Standard plan or the preferred provider […]

Military update: Debate heating over TRICARE

Senior Defense officials defended their plan to raise TRICARE Prime fees modestly for working-age retirees last week at a hearing of the House armed services subcommittee on military personnel. Next day, representatives of military associations testified. Five of them, including one who spoke on behalf of 13 other groups too, said they could accept what […]

Budget plans raise TRICARE fees

President Obama’s fiscal 2012 defense budget request brought a few surprises for military retirees. First, the plan to raise TRICARE fees for working age retirees is more “modest” than retiree advocates had expected, and might be viewed favorably in light harsher possibilities and the mounting debt crisis. Surprise two could discourage 103,000 veterans forced by […]

Coverage extension comes at price

This spring, though an exact date is not yet set, TRICARE coverage will be made available to young adult military dependents out to the age 26, and that extra coverage will be available retroactively to Jan. 1 this year. But for this expansion in TRICARE coverage, by as much as three to five years, these […]

Influencing TRICARE option barred

Civilian employers of military retirees once again can offer a TRICARE supplemental plan with their cafeteria-style health insurance options so that workers who elect to use their TRICARE Standard benefit can buy coverage conveniently and with pre-taxed dollars. The change took effect June 18 under a final rule published by the Department of Defense that […]

Cutting doctor’s fees cause for concern

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Lawmakers took steps this past week to put military people at ease over how TRICARE benefits will be protected and, for older children, how coverage likely will be expanded as the Obama administration implements the new national health care reform law. But Congress continued to take only clumsy temporary steps […]

Pay raises, fee increases proposed

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist The Obama administration proposes to spend three percent more next year on support programs for war-strained military families. But officials are urging Congress to stop adding extra dollars to the military pay raise every January and find a way to raise TRICARE fees for the first time in 15 years. […]

Current TRICARE contracts extended

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Six million military health care beneficiaries learned last July that their TRICARE support contractor would be changing on April 1, 2010, because those companies that run TRICARE’s North and South Regions had lost in competing for the next generation of contracts. But what a difference six months makes. Government auditors […]

Ethics issues surface for TRICARE

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist Aetna Government Health Plans of Hartford, Conn., appears to have gained an unfair advantage in competing for TRICARE’s North Region support contract, valued at $16.7 billion, by hiring a former chief of staff at TRICARE headquarters to help the company draft its winning proposal. The Government Accountability Office, auditing arm […]

TRICARE fee increases blocked

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist The last decision made by House-Senate conferees negotiating final details on a fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill was to insert language that will rollback an announced Oct. 1 increase in fees charged to TRICARE Standard beneficiaries for stays in civilian hospitals. The surprise fee increases, reported here last week, gave […]

TRICARE increase stuns retirees

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Defense health officials didn’t do the Obama administration any favor last week when they announced a “small” increase in the daily fee that military retirees under 65, their families and covered survivors must pay for inpatient care in civilian hospitals under TRICARE Standard starting Oct. 1. The jump, in fact, […]

TRICARE provider switch delayed

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Transition to new managed-care support contractors for 6 million TRICARE beneficiaries across 30 states has been halted while the Government Accountability Office reviews protests filed by losing bidders. TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) announced last month that Aetna Government Health Plans of Hartford, Conn., won the contract competition and would be […]

National health plan won’t hit TRICARE

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist President Obama says his push to reform the nation’s health care system will not diminish health benefits for service families or retirees who use TRICARE, or for veterans who rely on VA hospitals and clinics. In fact, he suggested, as health reform takes hold across the country, veterans who, for […]

New contractors for TRICARE

By Tom Philpott: Military update Six million military health care beneficiaries, those who live in TRICARE’s North and South regions, will have new managed care support contractors and claim processors to deal with by April. In a surprise development, two of three current TRICARE contractors — Health Net Federal Services and Humana Military Healthcare Services […]