Last month, MOAA and 43 other military and veterans service organizations joined forces supporting legislation to expand health care coverage for children whose veteran parents are disabled or who have died because of their service in uniform.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the country. The need has never been more urgent to protect and provide health care to this small but deserving group of young adult children during these tumultuous times.
Two longtime champion lawmakers recognized the urgency of the situation especially amid the pandemic: Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) reintroduced the CHAMPVA Children’s Protection Act (H.R. 1801 and S. 727). The goal of the legislation is to close the age parity gap for a vulnerable segment who need support: young adult children of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled, have died of a service-connected disability, or lost their life on active duty and did not qualify for DoD’s TRICARE program.
The legislation continues to gain momentum. More lawmakers are signing on as co-sponsors thanks to MOAA members and our partners’ efforts to educate members of Congress (and others) about the unacceptable inequity and the critical need for extending health care coverage to young adult children eligible for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
These children often struggle for decades with the challenges of living with a loved one suffering with permanently or totally disabling conditions, or with the loss of a parent who died because of their service.
The added health and financial stressors from the pandemic are especially difficult for these adult children and their veteran parents already struggling to manage their finances and health conditions. CHAMPVA can potentially save veterans and their families thousands of dollars a year, and extending coverage to young adult children also can provide great peace of mind and stability for the veteran and the family.
Beyond getting sick, the coronavirus can affect young adults’ social, emotional, and mental well-being. A recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates the pandemic’s mental health burden is heaviest among young adults. The survey reveals 63% of 18-to-24-year-olds reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, with 25% reporting increased substance use to deal with the stress and the same percentage saying they had seriously considered suicide. In recent weeks, CDC data is also showing hospitalization rates are up among younger adults.
Unlike employer-sponsored health care plans where adult beneficiaries’ children are covered up to age 26, adult children of veterans were not offered a similar option through CHAMPVA, as directed a decade ago in law through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For adult children of veterans, coverage under CHAMPVA ends at 18, unless the child is a full-time student; students can remain covered until age 23, but lose coverage if they get married or lose full-time student status.
TRICARE offers coverage for young adult dependents up to age 26 through the TRICARE Young Adult (TYA) plan, but unlike young adults covered by their parents’ commercial plans, TYA enrollees must cover the full cost of the program through a separate monthly premium – a parity gap MOAA is also trying to fix this year.
[RELATED: MOAA’s Advocacy in Action]
Like TRICARE, CHAMPVA coverage includes a range of services such as mental health care, pharmacy benefits, outpatient medical services, durable medical equipment, and more if delivered through authorized providers. And CHAMPVA costs for specific services and supplies generally are equivalent to Medicare and TRICARE payment rates.
Expanding CHAMPVA continues to be a high priority for MOAA and our partners. It is time to ease the minds of veterans and their young adult children. MOAA urges Congress to enact the CHAMPVA Children’s Protection Act once and for all – doing so would give adult children of veterans, many of whom have spent much of their lives in crisis, hope for a brighter future.
Click here to join forces with MOAA — send a letter to your members of Congress and request they pass the CHAMPVA Children’s Care Protection Act this year.
Every Officer Has Two Families
For over 90 years, MOAA has been working to get servicemembers and their families the benefits they deserve.