MOAA’s work to preserve your service-earned health care benefit received support from several key provisions in the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which became law last month.
Here’s a look at some of the key details from the new law; keep up with all of MOAA’s ongoing health care advocacy work via our Advocacy News page.
[RELATED: MOAA's TRICARE Guide]
TRICARE Pharmacy Network Report
Senate report language connected to the NDAA directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the impact of TRICARE retail pharmacy network cuts on beneficiaries. Specifically, an upcoming report will examine effects of the cuts on rural families, compound medication access, long-term care residents, and patients with chronic medical conditions.
MOAA is scheduled to meet with GAO staffers to provide beneficiary insights, including feedback shared by MOAA members via our online reporting tool. Securing the GAO report was a top priority for MOAA and will propel the next phase of our advocacy efforts on this issue.
Extended TRICARE Eligibility for Reserve Component Survivors
The Sergeant First Class Michael Clark TRICARE Reserve Parity Act, included as Section 702 of the NDAA, ensures grieving reserve component families have access to health care and a reasonable timeframe to secure alternate coverage.
The law extends eligibility for TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) from six months to three years for survivors of deceased members of the reserve components who were enrolled in TRS at the time of their deaths.
Mental Health Visit Copay Waiver
Section 701 of the NDAA authorizes, but does not require, DoD to waive cost-sharing for the first three outpatient mental health visits each year for active duty family members and TRICARE Young Adult program beneficiaries.
MOAA has worked to raise awareness about the negative impact of excessive TRICARE copays have on mental health access; while this is not the solution we seek, we do appreciate Congress’ attention to the issue.
MOAA will continue to advocate for legislation that categorizes mental health as primary care, thereby reducing copays to put them in line with commercial plan benchmarks and ensure cost is not a barrier to seeking care.
Medical Billet Cuts and Military Treatment Facility Restructuring
Congress continued oversight of military health system (MHS) reforms with Senate report language requiring two evaluations of military treatment facility (MTF) staffing – this following a sustained increase in complaints about access to care and MTF staffing levels.
The conference report also noted provisions in the FY 2023 NDAA halted medical billet cuts and MTF restructuring.
A GAO report will evaluate:
- The military departments’ policies and procedures for assigning active duty medical personnel to MTFs and ensuring their availability to meet staffing requirements.
- Historical and projected active duty medical workforce staffing trends at the MTFs in terms of assigned staff relative to the number of authorized positions.
- The extent to which DoD has identified and assessed factors that affect the availability of military medical workforces to deliver care at MTFs.
- Oversight of military medical staffing at MTFs.
DoD is also required to brief the congressional Armed Services Committees on the number and percentage of military medical personnel assigned to MTFs under the operational control of Defense Health Agency (DHA), along with an explanation for personnel not assigned to MTFs; and the DHA management structure to ensure unity of effort in the operation of MTFs.
MOAA will continue its work on health care issues not included in the FY 2024 defense authorization bill, including parity for TRICARE young adults and an expanded dental benefit for reserve component servicemembers.
These efforts will coincide with broader priorities such as access to care, risks to TRICARE networks, and protecting TRICARE For Life. Reach out to your lawmaker on these issues and others by registering today at MOAA’s Legislative Action Center.
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