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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 470-04
May 18, 2004

DoD Begins New Tricare West Region Transition

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced that on June 1, 2004, beneficiaries in the military healthcare plan, Tricare, in Oregon, Washington and northern Idaho will transition to the new Tricare West region and will receive health services and support through its new regional contractor, TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp. These states constitute the current Tricare Region 11 area. This transition is part of DoDs next generation of healthcare contracts in which three new regional contractors will provide improved customer service, easier access to care and a reduced need for transferring Prime beneficiaries enrollments when moving.

I am very pleased that the transition to TriWest is proceeding as scheduled, said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. While our military treatment facilities remain the core of the military health system, our regional contractors are important partners, providing additional providers and facilities for our beneficiaries through a civilian network.

The second of the three-phase West Region transition will take place on July 1, when beneficiaries in California, Hawaii and Alaska will become part of Tricare West. The final phase of this new expanded West Region will take place on Oct. 1 and will include the beneficiaries located in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and far West Texas. The West Region makes up the current Tricare Regions 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

We are committed to providing our beneficiaries with continuous, uninterrupted access to the high quality of care that they expect from the Tricare benefit, said Winkenwerder; their health and their satisfaction with their health plan are very important to us.

This transition to new contractors will not change Tricare benefits and costs. Beneficiaries in the West region, who are not enrolled in Tricare Prime, will have the opportunity to enroll and all beneficiaries will receive TriWest enrollment information before each of the current regions transition. Beneficiaries also will receive information on network providers, procedures for filing claims and points of contact for Tricare assistance.

The military health system has a team that will monitor the transition to ensure it proceeds smoothly and that contractors meet required performance standards. Procedures are in place to ensure that claims sent to the former contractor by beneficiary providers, after the start of the new contract, will be automatically forwarded to the new West region claims contractor.

The national healthcare information line will not be available under the new regional Tricare contracts. Local healthcare information lines will be available in some locations. Beneficiaries seeking local healthcare information should contact their Tricare primary care manager or local military treatment facility for assistance. Additionally, beneficiaries in the West Region may access health information by calling (888) TRIWEST, (888) 874-9378. The number offers options for accessing information about the Tricare benefit, as well as healthcare information, including an audio health library. For information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, beneficiaries may access the following Web sites. Tricare online at http://www.tricareonline.com for healthcare information or the Tricare Web site at http://www.tricare.osd.mil for benefit information.

The next generation of Tricare contracts consists of a suite of services that were competitively procured and awarded to provide beneficiaries with the highest quality of care, a higher level of customer service and added value in all aspects of the world-class Tricare benefit. The new contracts will make a strong program better, building on the best aspects of the current system and providing a system of incentives for improvements in quality care, access and claims payments for the 8.9 million Tricare beneficiaries. In addition to three regional contracts for health services and support, specific contracts were awarded for: mail order pharmacy, retiree dental, the uniformed services family health plan, Tricare global remote overseas, Tricare healthcare for Puerto Rico, marketing and education, information services, retail pharmacy, national quality monitoring, and claims processing for Medicare-eligible beneficiaries. Coming soon will be the new Tricare dental program for active duty families.

For more information on the contracts and the transition schedule, visit the Tricare Web site at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/contractsimplementation/default.cfm .

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