June 2007


June 15, 2007

Soon Tricare beneficiaries will be able to access Tricare information tailored for them through the new My Benefits portal. In addition to simplified navigation, beneficiaries can compare plans and get detailed information on services covered by Tricare. The improved portal also allows beneficiaries to print content easily, as well as save multiple sections of content into a single document. Upon entering the My Benefits portal, beneficiaries will be asked three questions about themselves: their militarystatus; where they live; and their Tricare health plan. The answers to these questions will provide content tailored to their needs. Beneficiaries will no longer have to wade through pages of content to find the information that pertains to them. If beneficiaries aren't sure about their Tricare plan, the Plan Wizard, one of the revamped site's new features, shows them the plans for which they may be eligible. 


June 15, 2007

Tricare officials are urging beneficiaries to prepare now before a hurricane causes evacuations or limits access to health care. Preparing for a disaster ahead of time may alleviate some stress families may face during the storm, and ease the burden on their loved ones. Americans must be prepared to care for themselves and their families during and immediately following a disaster for at least three days until other resources are available, according to FEMA administrator R. David Paulison. A family plan should outline how members can contact each other, how to reunite and what to do in different situations caused by a disaster. Officials advise keeping basic items like water, food, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and first-aid items in an emergency kit; and packing health-related items in a waterproof emergency kit to include: 

Copies of each family member's uniformed services ID card (or sponsor's name and Social Security number, family members' names, addresses and phone numbers). 

Copies of each family member's Medicare card or other health insurance card.

Copies of medical records for each family member.

List of each family member's primary care manager, along with other doctorsí names and phone numbers for each. 

Emergency contact names and phone numbers. 

List of other important phone numbers, including the regional contractor, Medicare, and Express Scripts (the Tricare Pharmacy contractor). 

List of each family member's allergies and prescription medications, including doses. 

A securely stored 30-day supply of all prescription medications for each family member. For those who require Insulin, include storage to keep it cool. 

Nonprescription drugs, such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, laxatives, bug spray, and itch control. 

List of medical devices' style/model and serial numbers, such as pacemakers.

Extra wheelchair batteries or other special equipment. 

Extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries. 

For more information, visit Tricareís Disaster Relief Web page. 

June 15, 2007

Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) will be restructured October 1, according to officials at the Tricare Management Activity (TMA). Although details are sparse, Army Maj. Gen. Elder Granger, deputy director of TMA, said that starting October 1 all qualified members will pay the same premium rates. "By late summer, beneficiaries can check the TRS section on www.tricare.mil for details on the restructured TRS," said Granger. Tricare Reserve Select is the premium-based Tricare health plan qualified National Guard and Reserve members may purchase. The plan offers comprehensive health coverage similar to Tricare Standard and Tricare Extra. TRS members and their covered family members may access care from any Tricare-authorized provider, hospital or pharmacy. They also can seek care from a military clinic or hospital on a space-available basis, although that is normally a very limited option. 

June 22, 2007


The House VA funding bill would increase the current budget by $3.8 billion more than what the administration wants. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, chairman of the House veterans affairs appropriations subcommittee, said "This bill is about respect and honors the promises made to our veterans with historic increases in funding to provide them the health care and benefits they earned when they put on our nation's uniform." Rather than threaten a veto in the face of that, the administration has taken another angle. A statement of administration policy by the White House Office of Management and Budget warns: "If Congress increases VA funding above the presidentís request and does not offset this increase with spending reductions in other bills, the president will veto any of the other bills that exceed his request until Congress demonstrates a path to reach the presidentís topline of $933 billion." (See next item.)

Senate Panel Approves Big VA Budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee has followed its House counterpart (previous item) by voting to appropriate $43 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs next year. This would be $6.5 billion above current levels and $3.6 billion more that the administration wants. The funds include $29 billion for VA medical services, primarily aimed at polytrauma care and mental health services. The Veterans Benefits Administration would get $1.3 billion, including funding to hire at least 500 additional claims processors to reduce the mounting backlog of claims pending. The legislation now will be considered by the full Senate.