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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 224-97
May 06, 1997

TRICARE SPEEDS HELP TO MIDWEST MILITARY FLOOD VICTIMS

Following President Clinton's declaration that all federal agencies will swiftly respond to the flooding in the Midwest, the Department of Defense announced today that it has adopted streamlined emergency measures to ease access to health care services for military Service members and their families in the Grand Forks, N.D. area effected by the flooding.

The temporary measures are retroactive from April 10, 1997, and will continue through May 10, 1997. These changes include:

Waiving the need for pre-approval for certain health care.

Waiving point-of-service cost-shares and deductibles for enrollees in TRICARE Prime who seek medical care from sources outside the TRICARE Prime network without their primary care manager's referral.

Dr. Edward D. Martin, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, stated, Those military families who have suffered from the disastrous flooding need special consideration. Working with our managed care support contractor, TriWest, we have eased their ability to gain needed health care through TRICARE. That's our top priority concern.

The commander of the military hospital at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.N.D., will work closely with and TriWest Healthcare Alliance (the TRICARE contractor for North Dakota), to will make it easier for the approximately 5,000 military service members and 10,000 military family members in those areas to get needed health care for the duration of the emergency.

David J. McIntyre Jr., president and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance, added, We at TriWest share the government's and public's concern about the effect of the floods on the lives of the people in Grand Forks and the surrounding areas. Together with the government, we are doing everything possible to ensure that disruption to health care coverage is kept to an absolute minimum and that the beneficiaries of this program retain the financial protection they deserve during such a difficult time.

TRICARE is DoD's managed health care program offering eligible beneficiaries a choice of three delivery options: Prime, a health maintenance option, Extra, a preferred provider option, and Standard, a fee-for-service option. As a military- wide program, TRICARE has regional private-sector health care contractors working in support of military medical facilities.

These families may call TriWest, at 1-800-874-9378, with questions about their health care benefits.