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New Health Care Law Has No Impact on TRICARE and VA Coverage

Sweeping health care reform legislation was signed into law and there has been considerable speculation about how the measure will impact TRICARE beneficiaries. Although the law, as originally passed, does not specifically reference TRICARE programs, the legislation will not directly impact military and veterans' health care programs.  

To affirm that TRICARE meets the requirement for individual health care coverage, the House unanimously passed "The TRICARE Affirmation Act" (H.R. 4887) sponsored by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton (Mo.). Senator Richard Burr (N.C.), ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, successfully amended the so-called "fix it bill" (H.R. 4872) to clarify that VA health programs and TRICARE are qualifying coverages under the new health care law.  The "fix it bill" passed in both the House and Senate and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.  

Another provision of the new law extends health care coverage to children up to age 26. Rear Admiral Christine Hunter, deputy director of TRICARE Management Activity, advised FRA that TRICARE is also unaffected by this provision of health care reform and TRICARE will continue to cover eligible dependent children up to the age of 21, or up to age 23 if enrolled full time at an accredited institution of higher education and is reliant on the sponsor for more than 50 percent of their financial support.  

Representative Martin Heinrich (N.M.) has introduced "The TRICARE Dependent Coverage Extension Act" (H.R. 4923), a bill that would extend TRICARE coverage for dependent children to the maximum age of 26.

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