Bill to Improve Access to Quality Healthcare for Disabled VeteransDecember 8, 2017, 12:18 PM HST (Updated December 8, 2017, 12:18 PM)
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02), Susan Davis (Calif.-53), Joe Wilson (S.C.-02), Brian Mast (Fla.-18), and Jacky Rosen (Nev.-03) on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, introduced bipartisan legislation to improve access to quality healthcare for disabled veterans.
The Fair Access to Insurance for Retired (FAIR) Heroes Act will allow medically retired veterans to choose between Medicare and TRICARE for their healthcare coverage.
Current law requires medically retired veterans to purchase Medicare when they become eligible, and if they fail to enroll, they lose access to TRICARE coverage and face Medicare’s late enrollment penalties and restrictions.
The FAIR Heroes Act will give medically retired veterans a choice to enroll in either Medicare or TRICARE, allow a one-time opportunity to switch between the programs if their current plan fails to serve their health needs, and authorizes the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide educational opportunities for veterans to make the best healthcare decision for themselves and their families.
“Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country,” said Rep. Gabbard. “Many carry both visible and invisible wounds of war long after they lay down their uniform. Their service should never limit their access to quality healthcare and the ability to make their own decisions about their care. Our bipartisan legislation cuts through the bureaucratic red tape for nearly 30,000 medically retired veterans with disabilities, empowering them to make informed choices on their coverage, while removing penalties and roadblocks to quality healthcare.”
“Considering the sacrifices veterans make on our behalf, we owe it them to ensure they are getting the care they deserve and in the manner that is best for them,” said Rep. Davis. “The FAIR Heroes act will give our veterans greater choices in where to get the healthcare plan that works for them.”
“The FAIR Heroes act gives our wounded veterans the ability to select the healthcare program that fits their needs and removes mandatory barriers created by Medicare,” said Rep. Wilson.
“I know as well as anyone the bureaucratic healthcare maze that awaits injured veterans when they get home,” said Rep. Mast. “It’s complex and not always in the best interest of our vets. Right now severely injured veterans can’t even access their TRICARE benefits without first dipping into Medicare money that could be going to care for our seniors. That’s the epitome of bad government bureaucracy. This bipartisan bill will make government more efficient and ensure our seriously injured veterans have access to the health care that best fits their needs.”
“I’m happy to work across the aisle to make health insurance more affordable and accessible for our nation’s veterans,” said Rep. Jacky Rosen. “By granting disabled veterans the choice between Medicare Part B and TRICARE, we are allowing them to make the best health care decision for themselves based on the quality and cost of care. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and deserve the very best care, and I will continue to support policies to achieve this goal.”
“In our work with some of the most seriously injured warriors over the years, we’ve heard several concerns about the significant burdens and confusion this issue with Medicare and TRICARE is placing on these veterans and their families,” said René Bardorf, Senior Vice President of Government and Community Relations, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). “We’re pleased to see bipartisan support in the House of Representatives for the FAIR Heroes Act, and appreciate Reps. Susan Davis, Joe Wilson, Tulsi Gabbard, Brian Mast, and Rosen for their leadership on this issue, which will finally provide relief to warriors and their families who have been forced to participate in Medicare instead of the TRICARE they have earned. We strongly urge their colleagues in the House and Senate to support this legislation and provide these men and women with the choice in healthcare coverage they deserve.”
Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
Along with the support of the Wounded Warriors Project, the FAIR Heroes Act has been endorsed by the Air Force Association, Association of the United States Army, Association of the United States Navy, AMVETS, Army Aviation Association of America, Chief Warrant & Warrant Officers Association of the U.S. Coast Guard, Got Your 6, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Military Order of the Purple Heart, Military Officers Association of America, the National Military Family Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Service Women’s Action Network, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America.