A bipartisan bill would provide a partial fix for the new TRICARE Select enrollment fee, which took effect Jan. 1.
The TRICARE Select Restoration Act (S.625), introduced by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), protects the military retiree health care benefit by eliminating the TRICARE Select enrollment fee for those who retired prior to 2018 and their dependents.
MOAA appreciates the efforts of both senators and supports this partial fix for the TRICARE Select enrollment fee.
[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Senators to Support S. 625]
“MOAA fought the new TRICARE Select enrollment fee years ago when it was proposed as part of military health system reform, because it fundamentally devalues the benefit and reduces health care protections for military retirees,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret). “We appreciate Sen. Tester and Sen. Murkowski’s efforts to eliminate the enrollment fee and reinstate full health care protections for those who retired before 2018. We thank Sen. Tester and Sen. Murkowski for taking this step to reverse the unacceptable move of cutting TRICARE benefits after servicemembers have fulfilled the obligations of a full career.”
The new TRICARE Select enrollment fee was passed into law with the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as part of a package of military health system (MHS) reforms. It went into effect Jan. 1, 2021, and has led to a significant number of retirees and their families being disenrolled from TRICARE coverage for failure to pay the fee. Disenrolled families have until the end of June to request reinstatement of TRICARE coverage.
During the FY 2017 NDAA process, MOAA opposed the Select enrollment fee and successfully fought for current servicemembers and retirees to be grandfathered into lower fees -- $150 individual/$300 family for grandfathered retirees, instead of $450 individual/$900 family for retirees who enter service on or after Jan 1, 2018.
The S.625 bill language repeals the Select enrollment fee only for those who retired before 2018 – a partial fix. MOAA still advocates for a full fix repealing the fee for all Group A beneficiaries (whose sponsors entered service before 2018), but this partial fix has a lower cost associated with it and a high likelihood of passage.
[RELATED: MOAA’s 2020-21 TRICARE Guide]
In a press release, the bill’s sponsors explained the importance of this legislation.
"No military retiree should ever be at risk of losing their health care coverage -- especially during a global pandemic," said Tester. "Our bipartisan bill will ensure that retired veterans aren't burdened by costly enrollment fees that put themselves and their family's health care in jeopardy. This legislation is a critical step in supporting more folks during these tough times, and I'll keep fighting until every man and woman who has selflessly served our nation has access to affordable, high-quality care."
Murkowski said the fees came as a surprise to many of her constituents, and she was “glad to join Senator Tester in support of legislation to eliminate unnecessary annual enrollment fees for certain retired veterans and reduce those fees for individuals and families.”
“COVID-19 has had significant impacts on America's veterans and their families,” Murkowski added. “We must guarantee their hard-earned medical benefits are protected throughout this public health crisis, and beyond."
Please contact your senators and ask them to co-sponsor this important bill.
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