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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 846-04
August 31, 2004

DoD Announces Completion of Tricare North Region

The Department of Defense (DoD) today announced that on Sept. 1, 2004, eligible military healthcare plan beneficiaries in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and eastern West Virginia transition to the TRICARE Northern Region. This transition completes the new North Region that began June 1 with the states of Illinois, Indiana, portions of Iowa (Rock Island Arsenal area), Kentucky, Michigan, portions of Missouri (St. Louis area), North Carolina, Ohio, portions of Tennessee (Ft. Campbell area), southern Virginia, western West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The completion of the Tricare North Region transition marks an important milestone in our transformation of military healthcare services, said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. This new structure not only enhances our customer service efforts, increases benefit portability and improves access to care, but it also is designed to make our beneficiaries partners in managing the spectrum of their own health needs.

Health Net Federal Services Inc. (Health Net), a government operations division of Health Net Inc., based in Sacramento, Calif., will provide healthcare services and support to the 2.85 million beneficiaries in the North Region, who may access healthcare information by contacting Health Net at (877) Tricare, (877) 874-2273, or http://www.healthnetfederalservices.com . North Region eligible beneficiaries, who are not in Tricare Prime, will have the opportunity to enroll. Health Net also provides beneficiaries with: information on enrollment and network providers; procedures for filing claims; contacts for Tricare assistance; view claim processing status and patient claims history; and locate a Tricare service center (TSC) or visit the virtual TSC, as well as access various programs that allow beneficiaries to manage their own health care.

Military treatment facilities (MTFs) in all regions remain at the core of the military health system and its Tricare Online Web site, < a class="link12" href="http://www.tricareonline.com">http://www.tricareonline.com provides beneficiaries additional interactive tools and up-to-date, accurate information on a variety of health matters, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tricare Online also includes a medical dictionary, the new Rx Checker, to find drug-and-drug or drug-and-food interactions, an online health journal and more. For information on the Tricare benefit, beneficiaries may visit http://www.tricare.osd.mil or consult their service and/or local MTF.

The new contracts build on the best aspects of the Tricare system, which has been developed over the last 10 years, making a strong program even better by providing incentives for improvements in quality care, access and claims payments. DoD has also awarded additional specific contracts for mail order pharmacy, retail pharmacy, retiree dental care, the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan, Tricare Global Remote Overseas, Tricare health care for Puerto Rico, marketing and education programs, information services, national-quality monitoring, and claims processing for Medicare-eligible beneficiaries. For more information on the contracts and the transition schedule, visit the Tricare Web site at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/contractsimplementation/default.cfm .