Friday, 09 December 2022

Rep. Garamendi introduces TRICARE Reserve Improvement Act for National Guardsmen, Reservists

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Davis, Fairfield, Yuba City), who represents Travis Air Force base and Beale Air Force base in Congress, introduced the TRICARE Reserve Improvement Act, which extends TRICARE Reserve Select, or TRS, eligibility to all National Guardsmen and Reservists, regardless of their civilian occupation.

Garamendi co-authored the legislation with Congressman Trent Kelly (R-MS), and identical legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

TRICARE Reserve Select is a premium-based health insurance plan for National Guard and Armed Forces Reserve service members that provides a comparable level of care as their active duty counterparts, at an affordable cost.

The military services leverage TRICARE Reserve Select as an incentive to recruit new service members, as well as retain others who are leaving active duty with valuable, high-demand skillsets – such as aircraft maintenance.

These service members are top candidates for the National Guard’s dual-status technician program, which allows an individual to continue serving an on a part-time basis, and help maintain military aircraft as a federal civilian.

Under current law federal employees who serve in the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserve are prohibited from participating in TRICARE Reserve Select.

This disparity creates a financial incentive for transitioning service members to take their skillset and credentials away from the federal government and penalizes those who choose to serve their country in a civilian capacity. It also limits the effectiveness of TRS as a recruiting tool within the public sector.

“I’m proud to work with Congressman Trent Kelly and Senators Steve Daines and Joe Manchin to ensure our servicemembers have access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Garamendi said. “Under current law, National Guardsmen and Reservists who are federal employees are only eligible to enroll in the FEHB Program and are restricted from participating in TRICARE Reserve Select. This legislation would remove that restriction to provide continuity of care and a more affordable option for these servicemembers and their families. I’ve heard from reservists in my district at Travis and Beale Air Force Bases about this issue and how it’s impacted their quality of life, and it’s time for Congress to finally act on this common-sense piece of legislation.”

"Our federal technicians in the National Guard and Reserves and their families deserve the same affordable access to healthcare coverage plans," Rep. Kelly said. "I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the House and Senate to advance this legislation to make a simple fix to an unfair bureaucratic restriction. This bill will allow dual-status military technicians in the National Guard and Reserves the choice to select TRICARE Reserve Select coverage instead of the Federal Employee Benefit option.

“Current law denies a valuable benefit to thousands of Guardsmen and Reservist,” said retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, NGAUS president. “This important legislation would help them save thousands of dollars a year in health care premiums while ensuring their families have continuity of care when they are deployed. Our soldiers and airmen greatly appreciate the leadership by Senator Daines and Senator Manchin as well as Congressman Kelly and Congressman Garamendi in the House of Representatives.”

Sgt Maj (Ret) Frank Yoakum, executive director of EANGUS, said, “TRICARE Reserve Select continues to be a top priority for our Association. Continuity of health care is a persistent complaint and we applaud Congress for their willingness to remove this impediment to service for National Guard members and their families.”

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