NDAA Provision Would Delay TRICARE Dental Program Improvements

NDAA Provision Would Delay TRICARE Dental Program Improvements
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Improvements to the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) would be delayed by one year if a provision in the House Armed Services Committee markup of the FY 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) becomes law.


While MOAA has advocated for TDP improvements for several years, we do not oppose the implementation extension to ensure the Defense Health Agency (DHA) has the time needed to revamp the program. However, we urge Congress to avoid further implementation delays so military families can benefit from planned improvements to the program.




TDP is a voluntary dental plan available for purchase by active duty family members, transitional survivors, and Guard and Reserve members and their families. The delay is the latest in a series of actions by Congress to address deficiencies with the program and ensure military families have access to affordable, high quality dental care.


The FY 2023 NDAA required DoD to modify TDP effective Jan. 1, 2026, to give beneficiaries dental plan options from two to four national dental insurance carriers. The legislation also provides for reduced premiums and copays for junior enlisted families (E-4 and below). The new TDP construct would give military families a choice of dental plans with a variety of network and coverage options to best meet their needs. The House provision in the FY 2025 NDAA would give DHA an extra year – until Jan. 1, 2027 – to implement TDP improvements.


Finding a Fix

Problems with TDP began in May 2017, when administration transitioned to United Concordia and many military families complained their dentists left the network due to reimbursement rate cuts. Some high-concentration military areas had few in-network providers.  


MOAA and other advocacy groups took this issue to Capitol Hill. Congress first responded by including language in the FY 2019 NDAA that would have made TDP beneficiaries eligible for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) effective Jan. 1, 2022.


However, complications arose surrounding TDP’s premium contribution from DoD. For most TDP beneficiaries, DoD pays 60% of the plan premium while the servicemember contributes 40%. This contribution, among other issues, hampered efforts to transition TDP to FEDVIP. The FY 2021 NDAA reversed those plans due to implementation challenges.


[RELATED FROM 2021: Congress Pulls the Plug on TRICARE Dental Program Transition to FEDVIP]


Beneficiaries eligible for the former TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) have already transitioned to FEDVIP. The FY 2017 NDAA sunsetted TRDP and made military retirees eligible for dental and vision coverage through FEDVIP as of Jan. 1, 2019.


Retiree dental coverage is fully funded by military retirees through plan premiums, so the transition of retirees to FEDVIP did not face the same implementation challenges. There are no changes to retiree dental and vision coverage – military retirees are still eligible for FEDVIP. 


A key element of the new TDP construct, outlined in the FY 2023 NDAA, is a separate contract to handle beneficiary eligibility, enrollment, and encounter (EEE) data. The EEE contractor will serve as the intermediary between DoD, beneficiaries, and the dental plan carriers. Without full EEE functionality, TDP improvements cannot move ahead.


MOAA has asked DHA for an update on the EEE contract and implementation of the new TDP construct, and we hope to discuss the topic at an upcoming session alongside fellow military and veterans service organizations.


MOAA will remain engaged as TDP improvements move ahead to ensure military families 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.