Military Advantage

Guard, Reserve Technician Tricare Fix Could Be Reintroduced

Capt. Eva Kelly, 38th Sustainment Brigade, receives instruction from Tony Torres on a tactical battle command system in a tactical operation center setup at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana. (U.S. Army/William E. Henry)
Capt. Eva Kelly, 38th Sustainment Brigade, receives instruction from Tony Torres on a tactical battle command system in a tactical operation center setup at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana. (U.S. Army/William E. Henry)

An outgoing senator hopes to push through a fix this year that would allow some Guardsmen and reservists who are also federal employees to use Tricare.

Currently, the federal government employs about 70,000 military technicians. Technicians are required to maintain Guard or Reserve status, but are paid through multiple funding sources.

Because they are also federal employees, by law they are not eligible for Tricare, and instead must use the federal health care marketplace.

Guard and Reserve advocates say that rule is unfair. Health insurance available to federal employees can cost about $5,000 more annually than the Tricare Reserve Select plan, which is available to all other Guardsmen and reservists. Guard and Reserve technicians should have access to the same benefits as their fellow service members, the advocates say.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, included a fix for that issue in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). But the measure was ultimately removed when lawmakers didn't want to find a way to pay for it. Officials with Hatch's office said he hopes he can push the fix through before he retires next year.

"He is optimistic he will be able to get that important measure done in this, his final NDAA," a Hatch spokesman said.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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