Fixing TRICARE coverage gaps is a top priority at MOAA because coverage policy is a key driver of the value of the military health care benefit. We were gratified to see the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included several key improvements to TRICARE coverage.
The NDAA requires DoD to conduct a demonstration project to evaluate coverage of doulas and expanded coverage of lactation consultants under the TRICARE program. Doulas are trained professionals who provide physical and emotional support during labor, delivery, and the early postpartum time.
We are pleased Congress, recognizing the unique conditions of military life, authorized this demonstration. Servicemembers and spouses may benefit from additional maternity care resources since they often deliver without the support of their spouse, family, and friends due to geographic separation.
It will take some time for the demonstration to go into effect. The legislation requires DoD to submit an implementation plan to Congress within 180 days of the bill’s passage.
Other TRICARE Coverage
The legislation also includes digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) as a TRICARE-covered benefit for breast cancer screening. The procedure is already covered for diagnostic purposes and as a provisional benefit for screening.
The House provision to allow dependents of reserve component members to receive hearing aids from MTFs was scaled back, but it does make dependents enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select eligible for the Retiree At-Cost Hearing Aid Program (RACHAP) offered at select military treatment facilities.
Chiropractic care was also addressed, but not with the feasibility report included in the House version. Instead, the conferees noted that DoD has discussed plans to expand TRICARE coverage to include chiropractic care and directed the Defense Health Agency to brief Congress on the expected date of chiropractic coverage within 180 days of enactment of the NDAA. We look forward to this update as MOAA has long advocated to fix this chiropractic coverage gap – an issue that’s become particularly important as the opioid epidemic highlights the risks of relying on pharmaceuticals for pain management.
MOAA will monitor implementation of these military health care enhancements and provide updates as more information becomes available.
[RELATED: MOAA’s 2020-21 TRICARE Guide]