This year, bipartisan legislation titled “TRICARE Reserve Improvement Act” was introduced to the 116th Congress that would extend TRICARE Reserve Select to all National Guard and Reserve members.
As current law stands, federal employees who serve with the National Guard and Reserves are unable to enroll in TRICARE Reserve Select. Federal employees are the only ones ineligible for the low cost healthcare, and have to pay a higher cost for health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
“Federal technicians, even though they are in uniform, don’t get the same pay and benefits than the active guard reserve does,” said Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) who sponsored H.R. 613. “And that’s okay because they know that going in, but it is important that they get the same healthcare.”
Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who co-sponsored the legislation this year and last, says this bill is important in allowing service members to choose affordable healthcare that is right for them.
“It’s important that we honor their commitment and their care and their protection of the United States when they come back or as they continue to serve throughout their lives,” she said.
Kelly adds that even though the legislation costs $240 million in mandatory spending over 10 years, it saves the United States government $1.5 billion in discretionary spending over the same period.
“It’s $1.3 billion in savings over 10 years, and it’s better and cheaper healthcare for our service members who are doing the same job as the person beside them who is in a different status,” he said.
While this isn’t the first time the bill has been introduced to Congress, Kelly feels confident it will get pushed into the next National Defense Authorization Act because he is working more closely with the Congressional Budget Office to offset the mandatory spending to get it funded.
“We are going to be real aggressive in getting co-sponsors and as many people behind it,” Kelly said. “We are going to try and push it through this year, but if not, we will be back next year doing the same thing. But I think we have a real chance of success this year.”
Kelly urges people to call their Congressional leadership, regardless of party, to express their support for the bill.Read comments