Congress Pulls the Plug on TRICARE Dental Program Transition to FEDVIP

Congress Pulls the Plug on TRICARE Dental Program Transition to FEDVIP
Photo by Senior Airman Matthew Lotz/Air Force

The FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) stops the planned transition of active duty and National Guard/Reserve families who use the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) to the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). MOAA supports this move and will continue working to ensure Congress and the Defense Health Agency (DHA) remain committed to addressing known problems with TDP networks.  


TDP is a voluntary dental plan available for purchase by active duty family members, transitional survivors, and Guard and Reserve members and their families. A similar move did take effect for the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP): The FY 2017 NDAA sunsetted TRDP and made military retirees eligible for dental and vision coverage through FEDVIP as of Jan. 1, 2019. There are no changes to retiree dental and vision coverage – military retirees are still eligible for FEDVIP. 


Administration of TDP transitioned to United Concordia in May 2017, and many military families complained their dentists left the network due to reimbursement rate cuts. Some high-concentration military areas such as Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and the Tidewater region of Virginia had few in-network providers.  


MOAA and other advocacy groups took this issue to Capitol Hill, and Congress responded by including language in the FY 2019 NDAA that would have made TDP beneficiaries eligible for FEDVIP effective Jan. 1, 2022. The FY 2021 NDAA reverses these plans. The TRICARE Dental Program will remain in place. 


[RELATED: Bipartisan Legislation Would Fix TRICARE Young Adult Coverage Gap]


Unlike TRDP, which was fully funded by military retirees through plan premiums, TDP includes a premium contribution from DoD. For most TDP beneficiaries, DoD pays 60% of the plan premium while the servicemember contributes 40%. Complications related to DoD’s premium contribution, among other issues, hampered efforts to transition TDP to FEDVIP. 


MOAA supports this move by Congress to ensure all TDP beneficiaries have continued access to affordable dental coverage, and we are encouraged by recent steps the DHA has taken to address issues with TDP.  


In September 2020, MOAA participated in a discussion on the way ahead for TDP hosted by DHA, sharing military family frustrations with the high number of dentists who have left the program and sparse provider networks in certain areas. We also shared military family concerns about reimbursement rate cuts potentially resulting in a lower quality of available dental care.  


[RELATED: MOAA Alerts TRICARE to Potential Problems With Select Enrollment Fees for Survivors]


Last month, DHA released a request for information (RFI) on the next generation of TDP contracts, known as TDP6. The RFI seeks industry input on how to improve access, including recommendations on network adequacy standards to improve beneficiary satisfaction. It also addresses provider quality by seeking feedback on identifying higher quality providers that would result in better outcomes for beneficiaries.  


As the TDP6 process moves ahead, MOAA will remain engaged to ensure military families continue to have affordable dental coverage that includes improved access to care and a greater emphasis on high quality providers.  


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About the Author

Karen Ruedisueli
Karen Ruedisueli

Ruedisueli is MOAA’s Director of Government Relations for Health Affairs and also serves as co-chair of The Military Coalition’s (TMC) Health Care Committee. She spent six years with the National Military Family Association, advocating for families of the uniformed services with a focus on health care and military caregivers.