The final version of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, released Monday night, no longer includes a plan that would have resulted in unfair fee increases for many retirees and their families enrolled in TRICARE.
This decision, made by leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, follows a campaign from the Military Officers Association of America and thousands of our members to get the measure removed, which would have eliminated the grandfathering for beneficiaries enrolled in TRICARE prior to January 1, 2018 with the intent to establish a single co-payment structure for all beneficiaries.
This critical exclusion from the legislation is a huge success, and is in no small part thanks to the many MOAA members who took the time to write their elected officials. Congress's inboxes were flooded with over 17,000 MOAA-suggested messages explaining that yet another round of fee increases was unacceptable for TRICARE beneficiaries.
This mass swell of grassroots support, combined with many thousands more messages from partners in The Military Coalition, played an important role in shaping the conversation as the defense bill went to conference committee.
Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins (USAF Ret.), MOAA's President and CEO, wrote Congressional leaders earlier this month, asking for the removal of the provision, Section 701 of the Senate version of the NDAA.
"This provision not only disregards the intent of the FY17 NDAA, which fully appreciated the difference between the many years of service as compared with new entrants, it patently results in yet another round of significant increases on that select population-affecting those who served a full military career and endured increases last year when the Defense Health Agency unilaterally implemented changes to the fee tables resulting in those net increases," Atkins wrote. "These new out of pocket cost increases, if approved, would be achieved through higher enrollment fees, new non-network deductibles, higher catastrophic caps and pharmacy fee increases-all of which significantly erode the military health care."