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Congress Approves Retiree Health Care Demonstration

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 1997 – Congress has approved a DoD plan to demonstrate health care delivery to military retirees over age 65.

Current budget reconciliation legislation provides for a limited demonstration of Medicare subvention, according to DoD officials. Under subvention, the department would expand health care to older retirees while not increasing the costs to DoD or the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare. The law currently prohibits Medicare reimbursements to DoD facilities for treatment of Medicare-eligible patients.

Under current rules, Medicare-eligible retirees can receive health care in a military facility on a space-available basis. Medicare subvention would ensure them full access to health care under TRICARE.

Where and when the demonstration will take place and what the benefit will include haven't been determined, according to DoD health officials. Once Congress and DoD agree on the demonstration sites, the officials said, TRICARE contracts for those areas will have to be modified before the demonstration begins.

"Improving access to military health care for Medicare- eligible military beneficiaries is important to the administration," Secretary of Defense William Cohen said. "A congressionally authorized Medicare subvention demonstration project is an important step toward achieving that goal for our beneficiaries."

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