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Washington Update for August 1st, 2016

TREA Washington Update for Monday, August 1st 2016

Washington really became a hot, sleepy town with the National Conventions occurring one week after the other. It has been terribly, record breaking hot- but don’t worry it is a humid heat. Many of the staffers will be back this weekend after they got to take a breather and we will start knocking on their doors again. Don’t forget these 100 days are the time when you should talk to your Congressional members about the issues that are important to you, the military retirees and veterans.


DoD releases final rule for TRICARE Mental Health/ Substance Abuse treatment


VA looking for Nominations for Appointment to the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses


Summer Time is a Great Time for Healthier Eating

More on the new TRICARE Management Contracts








PHOTO:  Sioux Falls Show-Soldiers jump from an Air Force C-130 Hercules during a performance at the Sioux Falls Air Show in Sioux Falls, S.D., July 23, 2016. The soldiers are assigned to the Black Daggers, the Army's Special Operations Command parachute demonstration team. The event marks the 70th anniversary of the South Dakota Air National Guard. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Stewart


DoD releases final rule for TRICARE Mental Health/ Substance Abuse treatment


Last week the Department of Defense (DoD) issued its new final rule for mental health and substance abuse disorders. It is a huge step forward. The change was prompted by the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). After a full review of the TRICARE benefits changes have been made to “meet the spirit and the intent of the Act.”


The new rules bring coverage to parity with TRICARE’s medical/surgical benefit including eliminating limitation on outpatient services including the previous limit of no more than 2 weekly sessions for outpatient services and aligning beneficiary cost-sharing co-pays (example:   reduce Retiree and Non Active Duty Dependents’ Prime per diem for partial hospitalization program from $40 inpatient rate billed to outpatient rate of $12 per day)


The new rule also expands mental health and substance abuse disorders (SUD)in numerous ways including:” Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)  for mental health & SUD treatment to provide step-down care from acute inpatient/residential care or partial hospitalization programs…Opioid use disorder treatment via Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) and physicians to provide evidence-based medication assisted treatment (i.e., buprenorphine, methadone)…Outpatient SUD treatment by individual providers to enhance access to psychotherapy and family therapy currently only authorized in Substance Use Disorder Treatment Facilities (SUDRFs)…Non-surgical treatment for gender dysphoria to cover psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, hormone treatment (Note: surgical sex change procedures still excluded by statute)


The new rule also grants the director of the DHA to approve the accrediting agencies for the institutional providers. It also improves and makes more generous the reimbursement rates and co-pays.


These should be major improvements for TRICARE mental health and substance abuse disorder coverage. If you need more information go to the TRICARE website or call/e-mail Deirdre Parke Holleman and we will get you additional information.   



VA looking for Nominations for Appointment to the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses


The VA’s Veterans Health Administration is looking for candidates for the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. A majority of the members must be “non-Federal employees, appointed by the Secretary from the general public, serving as Special Government employees.”


Most, but not all, of the Committee members have a medical or legal background. If you may be interested in applying yourself or nominating another person please go to: for much more information on the Commission. 

(Federally-registered lobbyists are prohibited from serving on Federal advisory committees in an individual capacity.)


All nominations must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on August 15, 2016. They need to be mailed to Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., (10P9), Washington, DC 20420, emailed to, or faxed to (202) 495-6155.



Summer Time is a Great Time for Healthier Eating


Below is useful note from TRICARE:

During the summer, many people spend more time outside whether on vacation or just enjoying the sun. Don’t let this change in routine derail your healthy eating habits. 


The summer offers many opportunities to make healthy eating choices. When it’s too hot to cook inside, turn on the grill outside. Grilling is a healthier way to cook food and you can choose from a large variety. Instead of red meat, consider chicken and fish. Chicken and fish have less saturated fat than most red meat. The American Heart Association also reports that cholesterol and saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol and make heart disease worse and the unsaturated fats in fish, such as salmon, actually have health benefits. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for safe grilling. 


You can also grill vegetables. Many vegetables taste great on the grill with minimum seasoning and added fats. Look up some of your favorite veggies to find a recipe that you like. Don’t forget snacks! While playing outside or on a road trip, there are many different fruits that are available over the summer. Fruits don’t require any extra preparation and are the perfect fast food. And also don’t forget to drink plenty of water especially in hot and often humid summer weather. 


Summer passes quickly. Don’t allow three short months ruin your healthy living goals


More on the new TRICARE Management Contracts

 Below is a copy of TRICARE’s explanation of their 2 new regional contracts. There are many links that can give you even more information. We are still waiting to see if there will be contract protests. As we implied last week we expect to see protests; but you never know. Again, more to come.


New Regional Contracts in 2017

The new regional contracts were awarded on July 21, 2016. The East Region Under the new regional contracts, the East Region is a merger of the North and South Regions and includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa (Rock Island area), Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri (St. Louis area), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (excluding El Paso area), Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. contract goes to Humana Government Business, Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky, and the West RegionAlaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa (excludes Rock Island arsenal area), Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri (except St. Louis area), Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas (southwestern corner including El Paso), Utah, Washington and Wyoming. contract goes to Health Net Federal Services, LLC of Rancho Cordova, California.

  • We anticipate the start of health care delivery late 2017. 
  • There will be a 9-month transition period.
  • We have added improvements in the delivery, quality, and cost of your health care from previous contracts. 

Most of these improvements will be behind the scenes. But, some changes you may experience include:

  • Shorter wait times for specialty care appointments
  • Improved communication between your military and civilian providers
  • Easier referral process
  • There is a 9-month transition period. 
  • Our goal is to have a smooth transition and to keep you informed.
  • We’ll update this page regularly. 
  • You can sign up now to get transition updates via email. 

You Don't Need to Do Anything Right Now

What's Changing?

While the TRICARE benefit won’t change, you can expect changes in how you access care and to some processes. Here are the two key changes in the new contract: 

Improved Integration between Military Hospitals & Clinics and Civilian Care

The Military Health System (MHS) consists of military hospitals & clinics and civilian care.  There will be improved integration between these components of your health care.

How Will This Affect Me?


Benefit for You 

Processing referrals electronically

  • Decreased wait times to get specialty care
  • Less paperwork

Sharing more data across the enterprise*

*May not apply to non-network providers.

  • Improved health care coordination
  • Improved access to care
  • More access to health records
  • Real time access to data on medical management and utilization

Increasing the use of standardized metrics and analytics

  • Fewer gaps in health care
  • Improved clinical quality
  • Compares military and civilian hospitals and clinics
  • Improved patient safety

Reduction of Three TRICARE Regions to Two

There are currently three TRICARE regions in the United States: North, South, and West. The new regional contracts reduce the number of regions to two. Moving to two regions standardizes how you get your benefit.

  • East Region (merges current North and South Regions)
  • West Region (same as the current West Region)


How Will This Affect Me?


Impact For You 

North and South Regions merge. 

Your region will change to the East Region.

West Region stays the same.

Your region will remain the West Region.

You may have a new regional contractor.

Stay connected to learn more about your new region. >>Sign up for Email Updates

Your network providers may change.

Stay connected to learn more about your new region. >>Sign up for Email Updates

Your primary care manager may change.

If enrolled in TRICARE Prime, you may have a new primary care manager.

You'll get more seamless support between regions.

You’ll get more support:

  • Particularly when you move 
  • Especially if you’re a family with special needs





TREA’s Washington Office

1001 N. Fairfax St., Ste. 102

Alexandria, VA  22314


D. Holleman, Executive Director

L. Madison, Legislative Director

M. Saunders, Deputy Legislative Director


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