As the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) moves forward, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) has filed an amendment that would require TRICARE to cover young adult dependents up to age 26 without a separate premium.
We urge MOAA members to ask their senators to co-sponsor the associated bill, the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act, to build support for the legislation as Senate leadership considers the amendment. Also, contact your House members to seek their support for their version of the bill – H.R. 475 – as a way to strengthen the issue in both chambers ahead of the NDAA conference committee.
Kelly introduced the original bill (S. 1972) in June together with co-leads Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
TRICARE’s young adult coverage gap received national attention recently via an ABC News article published Nov. 13. It told the story of Debra Ward, whose husband serves on active duty and whose 22-year-old son Joel was diagnosed with diabetes as a child. He suffered from three life-threatening hypoglycemic incidents while in college; to keep him under her family TRICARE Prime coverage after he turns 24, she’ll have to pay a monthly premium more than $500 a month.
“We’re not expecting any special treatment,” she told ABC, “but it does seem like we ought to be at least getting the same treatment everybody else in the country has been receiving for the last 11 years.”
Securing parity in young adult coverage has been one of MOAA’s top priorities for 2021 and an Advocacy in Action (AiA) topic this year.
[ADVOCACY IN ACTION ISSUE PAPER: Parity for TRICARE Young Adults]
The TRICARE Young Adult provision was not included in the Senate Armed Services Committee mark of the FY2022 NDAA released in September. As we wait to hear when the bill will come to the floor, senators have submitted hundreds of amendments covering a variety of topics. Most will not receive attention on the Senate floor, as leadership tends to limit the amendments considered.
To build support for Kelly’s amendment, The Military Coalition (TMC) is coordinating a letter to Senate leadership underscoring the importance of fixing this parity gap in TRICARE coverage. TMC is a group of military and veteran service organizations representing a combined membership of nearly 5.5 million. MOAA co-chairs TMC’s Health Care Committee, which has led efforts on TRICARE young adult coverage within the coalition.
The House companion bill, H.R. 475, has 118 co-sponsors as of this article, while S. 1972 has 10. Constituent communications are key to growing the number of co-sponsors and getting the TRICARE Young Adult parity fix included in the FY 2022 NDAA. Please join us in contacting your lawmakers now.
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