Pittsburgh, PA- With over 4,000 retired military veterans in danger of losing their access to their current healthcare plan on October 1st due to a new Department of Defense (DoD) policy, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called for passage of legislation that would allow Southwestern Pennsylvania veterans continued access to TRICARE Prime. Joined by veterans’ advocates from across the region, Casey discussed stories of impacted veterans and called on Congress to pass legislation that ensures thousands of retired military personnel can continue on their current healthcare plan.
“This one-time accommodation will lessen the impact on veterans who are disadvantaged based solely on where they chose to live after their service to our nation,” said Senator Casey. “I’m urging the Department of Defense to delay the implementation of this program until Congress is able to consider this legislation. Many retirees on fixed incomes did not plan for these increased costs. We must do whatever we can to honor those who have served our nation bravely and selflessly in the armed forces.”
This one-time accommodation will lessen the impact on veterans who are disadvantaged based solely on where they ch... http://t.co/y8IybqlnIP— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) September 20, 2013
Senator Casey is a co-sponsor of the Keep Faith with TRICARE Prime Act (S. 1078). The legislation would direct the Secretary of Defense to provide certain TRICARE beneficiaries with the opportunity to retain access to TRICARE Prime by allowing a one-time election to continue such enrollment in TRICARE Prime so long as the beneficiary resides in the same ZIP code as he/she did at the time of election of benefits. This would effectively “grandfather” those currently enrolled in TRICARE Prime.
This change in DoD policy affects over 171,000 military retirees and their families nation-wide, and over 4,000 of these retirees reside in Pennsylvania.
Senator Casey has received numerous letters on this issue. Below are some excerpts from constituent correspondence:
- “I have always stepped up when my country called me to duty at any time of day or night and even if it became uncomfortable to my family. Many asked why I did what I did for so many years without question. My answer was always, ‘Because it is the right thing to do...’ As a veteran, I always felt that the sacrifice I made for this great country and for my family would allow me to feel secure once it was time for me to hang up my flight suit. Now, all I feel is the lack of fiscal and medical security when it comes to the current change to the TRICARE Prime area of coverage.”
- “On 1Oct, My family and I will have a burden of not having Tricare Prime. Though this may not appear severe on its surface, it is contrary to the principle of our contractual and in my view the covenant (agreement and entitlement) of me and the 171,000 Retirees and their families will soon face. This is a slippery slope, and we need you, our Representative, to take a firm stance against this and other dishonorable actions against the 1% that sacrificed very much in the service to protect our Freedoms and Liberties that the 99% enjoy…Although I accept the things I cannot change, I feel that I can do my best to change the things I cannot accept. I request your assistance in my endeavor and on behalf of the Warriors that served and continue to serve this Great Nation.”
- “This change would create out-of-pocket expenses that are not sustainable by their fixed incomes. Noting the serious damage that would follow this restriction on beneficiaries' healthcare coverage, the Keep Faith with TRICARE Prime Act of 2013 would provide a level of accommodation as well as honor the benefits promised to Veterans.”