NERA follows numerous legislative proposals in Congress that concern our members. Here are the highlights of the current legislative initiatives NERA is tracking:
FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
As of this writing Congress has completed a conference committee on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2018, but we have yet to see the entire act in writing. It now must be voted on by both the House and Senate and then forwarded to the President for action to sign or veto it. We have attained some highlights and overviews that are briefly noted as follows, more in depth analysis will follow in our next Mariner as info becomes available:
- Military pay increase of 2.4% (This is above the President/DoD request of 2.1%)
- Imposes a pharmacy co-pay increase over several years for areas having nothing to do with health care.
- Mandates Reserve and Guard members who are mobilized receive premobilization and transitional health care.
- Authorizes a 20,300 personnel increase in military end strength, with 4,000 active duty and 1,000 reserves increases for the Navy and 1,000 active duty for the Marine Corps.
- A Senate proposal to reduce the BAH payments for dual military couples with children was scrapped in conference.
- Keeps a grandfather clause to prevent current retirees younger than 65 form added TRICARE fee increases. The Senate had proposed repealing the grandfathering clause.
Major TRICARE Changes Coming
- Region Consolidation: The current 3 regions will be changed with the North and South Regions being combined into the East Region and the West Region will remain relatively the same. Two new contractors will administer these Regions, Humana Military and Health Net Federal Services. This change is effective as of Nov. 1, 2017.
- TRICARE Select: TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra both stateside and overseas. This will be a preferred provider option.
- TRICARE Prime: TRICARE Prime remains as a managed care program with assigned Primary Care Manager.
- Enrollment: All current eligible beneficiaries will be automatically enrolled into plans on Jan. 1, 2018, with Prime enrollees remaining in Prime and Standard and Extra beneficiaries enrolled in Select.
- Transition from Fiscal Year to Calendar Year: TRICARE benefit is changing from FY to CY. A transitional period from Oct. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2017 is ongoing where enrollment fee will be pro-rated and billed accordingly for those who pay monthly or quarterly.
- Fees/Costs: Following are the proposed TRICARE costs to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018: