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Saturday, December 22, 2012

TRICARE in the Conference Report

Previous posts have described the progress of TRICARE legislation in Congress. Autism Speaks provides an update on the defense authorization conference report:
Both the House and Senate had approved bipartisan amendments to the new defense authorization bill requiring coverage for military retirees, in addition to active duty members, and provided for recommended levels of care consistent with best practices. The Senate version went further by incorporating the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Public Health Service.
When the House and Senate met in conference committee to reconcile their two bills into a final version, the members noted their awareness of ongoing litigation in which the U.S. District Court ordered TRICARE to provide ABA benefits to all service members as a medical treatment.
“The conferees understand that the plaintiffs and DOD have each submitted motions to reconsider the court order,” the conference committee reported. “The conferees have provided DOD this one-year authority in order to allow DOD to assess such coverage independent from litigation proceedings."
The one-year pilot program is to start within 90 days of enactment of the new DoD authorization bill. Within 270 days, DoD will then be required to report to Congress on costs and any recommended legislative remedies.
At Time, Jeremy Hilton is skeptical:
For those who don’t know, anytime the Defense Department is told to conduct a “pilot program” or to “study” an issue, the results will most likely not be in the interest of anyone but the Pentagon. The conferees cited an ongoing class-action lawsuit, seemingly as one of their reasons for wanting to put the pilot program in place (see page 123 of the conference report).