Aug 8, 2020

How the Changes in Tricare Will Affect Vets: A Legal Perspective


A Look Behind The Work In Congress.

Proposed changes to the military's Tricare benefits may mark a significant change in the way that veterans receive their care in the years to come. A bipartisan bill is likely to land on President Trump's desk in the coming month or two. Below we break down some of the history of Tricare and how the proposed changes may affect you or someone you love. We also delve into the legal issues surrounding the bill and for vets.

The Proposed Changes.

There are already some significant changes underway in the Tricare program, as seen here. However, several proposed changes are included in a bipartisan bill currently before Congress. The proposed changes include making medical prescription costs zero during the pandemic. The bill was introduced by Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker. According to the bill, the changes would provide major changes for active duty personnel and vets.

The info is all compiled into the proposed legislation, the Tricare Prescriptions Relief Act. As a part of the proposed action, a similar bill was also introduced into the House by two Democrats. As part of the legislation, the efforts intend to give military families a break during a time of need.

"Ensuring Arizona Tricare recipients can receive their prescriptions outside of military clinics at no added cost helps keep Arizona military families and retirees safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic," said Sinema.

The Situation Due To COVID.

This action took place after tremendous challenges for veterans and their families. There was little face to face contact allowed during the early days of the pandemic. Due to this, the Defense Health Agency recommended that those using Tricare instead switch to mail order. This does include a lower co-payment than using retail stores. This is especially important considering that disease restrictions meant that bases were unable to continue the former levels of prescription drug dispensing. Reduced staffing led to situations where it was more difficult to pick up meds from military pharmacies.

Even with the use of changed hours or curbside pickup, the case is still very touching and goes for both base personnel and active duty service members and their families.

Furthermore, the effects of the virus are extreme for those who contracted it. In cases of vets or active duty members who need COVID related drugs, the restrictions led to a tripling of co-payments.

This came after Tricare limited the prescriptions of many drugs to just a 30 day supply due to emergency measures. This was a major change from the former policy of allowing a 90 day supply of many of these drugs. Included in the restrictions were necessary breathing drugs like Albuterol as well as hydroxychloroquine, used by some doctors. While this avoided shortages, it represented a particular challenge for military families. As a result, even some medications like Flovent were limited due to the effects of the pandemic. All of these restrictions meant that those in the most danger from Coronavirus had fewer tools to fight it in case of an outbreak or infection.

A Valuable Step Forward.

Most of all, this is not a perfect fix. There is still a major risk of severe shortages due to the needs posed by the disease. And this is especially the case now with cases of the disease spiking across much of the country. This bill does represent a step forward, though. While not perfect, waiving the co-payments on drugs for Tricare users is the right thing to do. It also means that vets and their families get the care they need now without having to worry about how they are going to pay for it on their military salary or pension. From a vet's perspective, this is the right move and one that Congress is long overdue in passing.

A Legal Minefield Awaits.

While the above-proposed legislation is good news, that's just part of the story. As a matter of fact, there are still multiple effects of how the VA and Tricare handled the Coronavirus from the beginning. In some cases, vets were put into contact with people who may have carried the disease. In other cases, supplies of needed drugs were denied or delayed. In other cases, as cited above, the drugs came with a massive co-payment that the person was unable to afford.

All of that is unacceptable to me. I know the value of the VA. I also know that it comes with significant shortfalls and issues. Time is often one of the worst. It's this that often costs so many vets their livelihood or even their lives. If you or a loved one suffered due to errors by the VA or Tricare, I want to hear about it. The chances are good that my law firm can help you. I want to be there for you. My team is second to none in researching the labyrinth of VA and DoD regulations.

We want to research to help you. We will travel anywhere in the state of California to discuss your legal rights. Are you concerned about COVID? So are we. We can do the counseling remotely, via Zoom or in a safe location. And the consultation is free. We also promise not to ask for a penny unless we recover for you.

About The Author.

Michael Ehline is the head attorney at the Ehline Law Firm APLC, based out of Los Angeles. He and his team of skilled attorneys specialize in personal injury and veterans' cases. A veteran himself, Ehline served in the United States Marine Corps. He believes in the undeniable bond between vets and the responsibility of the nation to keep care of them both abroad and at home. As a disabled vet himself, Ehline's number one task in his law firm is to take care of his comrades in arms.

No matter what the branch, Ehline Law is here for you. If the confusing mix of info, forms, and agencies have got you confused, that is what we are here for. We fight to the end. In my time in the Corps, I was just doing my part.  However, I saw true heroes wear the uniform. It is the honor of my life to have served alongside them. If you need any help with any issues listed above, call the number below or reach out to me 24 / 7. Contact us any time, day or night, seven days a week for more info at losangeles@ehlinelaw.com.

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