Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Passes Bipartisan Amendment in Defense Funding Bill to Ensure Veterans in Rural Communities Have Access to Health Care
Amendment Corrects Pentagon Policy and Will Provide Veterans Promised Health Care Benefits
Washington, D.C.– Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today included a bipartisan amendment into to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2016 to reverse a decision by the Pentagon which broke the promise of accessible and affordable health care benefits to many of our veterans. The amendment, sponsored by Congresswoman Gabbard and Congressman John Kline (R-MN), provides military retirees living outside of 100 miles from a military treatment facility the option to re-enroll in TRICARE Prime after they had lost access due to a 2013 policy change by Department of Defense (DOD).
“All our veterans, no matter where they live, deserve to receive the benefits they have earned,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “I appreciate working with Congressman John Kline in passing this amendment to the Defense bill, which will finally restore access to affordable healthcare for all military retirees who lost eligibility for TRICARE Prime through no fault of their own. The Department of Defense's 2013 policy change that limited the TRICARE Prime service areas had a disproportionate negative impact on our neighbor island residents, who already face unique challenges to accessing healthcare because of our island state. This amendment will allow them an opportunity to reenroll and receive their benefits.”
The amendment passed unanimously by a voice vote, and is included in the House version of the NDAA.
Across the country, more than 170,000 veterans who live outside 100 miles of a military treatment facility lost access to TRICARE Prime at the end of 2013 due to a DOD policy change. This policy impacted over 1,000 people in Hawai‘i, and left many retirees struggling to cover the increased costs due to their fixed incomes. The amendment would provide a one-time election for all affected retirees to have access to TRICARE Prime.
The Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 1735, serves as the budgetary blueprint for the Pentagon and is being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives this week.