POUGHKEEPSIE – On February 15, following the first meeting of his Veterans and Military Families Advisory Committee, Congressman Pat Ryan, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced the introduction of his bipartisan “Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act.” This landmark legislation would extend health care coverage to TRICARE (Active Duty and Retired) beneficiaries who have adult children younger than 26 years old, lowering costs and ensuring access for hundreds of thousands of military families across the country.
“Military families have sacrificed so much for this country – it’s absolutely unacceptable that they don’t have access to the same health care as every other American,” said Representative Pat Ryan. “I’m proud that my legislation will right this wrong, delivering much-needed relief to military families across the country. By extending TRICARE eligibility to 26, hundreds of thousands of military families will save as much as $6,840 per year. Our military families have stepped up and sacrificed for us, now we need to do right by them.”
“Our service members have risked everything to protect our nation and preserve our freedoms,” said Representative Michael Waltz, an Army veteran and co-lead of the bill. “They should not have to worry about the health and welfare of their families while serving our country. I’m proud to support this legislation to support our military families, provide an additional retention-incentive for our service members, and ensure the children of our troops have the same, equal access to health care as their civilian counterparts.”
“This legislation would be a game-changer for families like mine, both in the Hudson Valley and across the country,” said Vicki Jackson, a member of Congressman Ryan’s Veterans and Military Families Advisory Committee from Orange County. “My husband is still active duty and we’ve been worried about paying the TRICARE premium increase when our son finishes school. The savings from this bill will remove that worry, providing direct relief at a time when so many families are feeling the strain on their wallets. On behalf of all military families, I want to thank Congressman Ryan for introducing this bill, and I look forward to working with him to get it signed into law.
“The Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act would ensure access to affordable health care for military kids as they transition to adulthood, consistent with federal requirements for commercial health plans,” said Military Officers Association of America President and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret). “Military kids face many challenges including frequent moves, school transitions, and family separations. As they transition to adulthood, military kids deserve the same health care protections as their peers covered by commercial plans. MOAA thanks Rep. Pat Ryan and Rep. Mike Waltz for their efforts and we look forward to working together to fix the TRICARE young adult parity issue.”
“Our young adult military kids deserve the same access to healthcare as civilians their age,” said National Military Family Association CEO Besa Pinchotti. “They’ve grown up through two decades of war, combat deployments, and operational tempos that took one or both parents away on a regular basis. We’ve asked them to move every two to three years, start new schools, and make new friends. Many have stepped into caregiving roles as Hidden Helpers. They’ve done everything the country has asked of them — the least we can do is ensure they have the same access to affordable healthcare as their peers.”
Under current law, TRICARE dependents may only remain on their parents’ policy until they are 21 years old. If they are enrolled as a full-time student in an approved institution and if their parent pays more than half of their financial support, the dependent may remain on their parents’ policy until they turn 23 years old or are out of school, whichever comes first.
Dependents have the option to enroll in the TRICARE Young Adult program, and almost 40,000 military families choose to do so. However, they must spend between $291 and $570 per month to cover the full cost of the program via a separate monthly premium, in a time when costs are rising and families across the country are feeling a strain on their wallets.
Congressman Ryan’s legislation would ensure equity for military families by bringing eligibility for young adult dependents in line with that offered by private insurance plans. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), children up to the age of 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans with no additional out of pocket cost.
Congressman Ryan’s bill is cosponsored by 50 Members of Congress from both parties. The bill is also endorsed by dozens of national organizations who support military families, including the VFW and the National Military Family Association.