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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 998-04
October 06, 2004

DoD Announces Completion of Tricare West Region

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced that today eligible TRICARE beneficiaries in the remaining portion of the new West Region will transition to their new regional contractor, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Corp. This transition completes the West Region and includes beneficiaries in Arizona, Colorado, southern Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, far west Texas, Utah and Wyoming. Beneficiaries in the Yuma, Arizona area, Alaska, California, Hawaii, northern Idaho, Oregon and Washington transitioned to the West Region in June and July.

Our transition activities have gone fairly well thus far and I am confident that our new contracts, new regional alignments and our contractual partners will continue to serve well the health needs of our beneficiaries, said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. Enhancements under the new contracts increase portability and improve access to care in all regions, while making military medical facilities responsible for managing patient care and acquiring necessary resources based on local needs. We expect these changes will result in more responsive and cost-effective patient care that meets national quality standards.

TriWest, based in Phoenix, Ariz., will provide healthcare services and support to approximately 2.7 million beneficiaries in the West Region. Beneficiaries may access healthcare information by contacting TRIWEST, (888) 874-9378, or online at www.triwest.com. West Region eligible beneficiaries who are not in TRICARE Prime will have the opportunity to enroll. TriWest also provides beneficiaries with information on enrollment and network providers; procedures for filing claims; contacts for TRICARE assistance; and the ability to view claim processing status and claims history online. Other Web services include locating a TRICARE service center (TSC) and Web-based programs allowing beneficiaries to better manage their health care.

Military medical facilities in all regions remain at the core of the Military Health System. For specific information on the TRICARE benefit, whats covered and how it works, beneficiaries may visit the TRICARE Web site www.tricare.osd.mil or consult their service or local military medical facility. Beneficiaries may also visit TRICARE Online at www.tricareonline.com for interactive tools and up-to-date, accurate information on general health matters. TRICARE Online includes a medical dictionary, the new Rx Checker, to find drug-and-drug or drug-and-food interactions, an online health journal and more.

The new contracts build on the best aspects of the TRICARE system and include incentives for improvements in quality care, access and claims payments. DoD has also awarded contracts for mail order pharmacy, retail pharmacy, retiree dental care, the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan, TRICARE Global Remote Overseas, TRICARE healthcare for Puerto Rico, marketing and education materials, centralized customer service, 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 www.tricare.osd.mil/contractsimplementation/default.cfm.