Sending Office: Honorable Harley Rouda
DEADLINE: COB, FEBRUARY 26
National Guard and Reserve components are an integral part of our nation’s armed forces. More than 800,000 soldiers have been mobilized by the U.S. Army Reserve and U.S. Army National Guard since 2001, with many soldiers serving multiple deployments.
Too often, Guard and Reserve personnel experience issues accessing the health care benefits they have earned through their service.
For example, a California National Guard unit serving active duty orders in Ukraine recently experienced a total lapse in TRICARE benefits for soldiers and their dependents. Additionally, a North Carolina National Guard unit experienced similar issues following
mobilization to active duty last fall. While these incidents were ultimately resolved, we want to ensure that our brave service members and their families do not experience similar lapses in health care coverage in the future.
As such, we ask that you join us in sending a bipartisan letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting a report on these lapses in TRICARE benefits for some National Guard and Reserve personnel and their families.
|HARLEY ROUDA||MARK GREEN|
|Member of Congress||Member of Congress|
|GIL CISNEROS||VIRGINIA FOXX|
|Member of Congress||Member of Congress|
February XX, 2019
The Honorable Gene Dodaro
Comptroller General of the United States
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548
Dear Mr. Dodaro:
We write to request that the Government Accountability Office conduct an independent review of lapses in TRICARE coverage for National Guard and Reserve personnel serving on active duty orders. It is our understanding that some service members have suffered
a lapse in TRICARE coverage and benefits as a result of a transition from Guard or Reserve status to active duty.
We are concerned about recent reports that the 19th Special Forces Group with the California Army National Guard suffered a loss in TRICARE coverage and benefits while deployed overseas. These soldiers are currently serving on active duty orders in Ukraine
in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. While this particular lapse in TRICARE coverage has since been resolved, it does not appear to be an isolated incident.
In September 2019, reports indicated that North Carolina National Guard soldiers from the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, who were mobilized to active duty, suffered from infrequent pay checks and a complete lapse in health insurance coverage for the soldiers
and their families. Additionally, in 2016 and 2017, the California Army National Guard’s 19th Special Forces Group suffered a similar lapse in access to TRICARE benefits while serving on active duty orders in Afghanistan.
While serving our nation overseas, soldiers should not be forced to deal with lapses in health coverage and access to TRICARE benefits. Pregnant wives, children with disabilities, and other family members of National Guard and Reserve personnel rely on TRICARE
benefits for health care coverage. Lapses in coverage can have serious consequences for our soldiers and their families and can understandably detract from our soldiers’ focus on executing their mission. While these men and women put their lives on the line
for our national security, we must ensure they and their loved ones have access to the health benefits they have earned through their service to our nation.
In particular, we request a report that answers the following questions:
- Over the past five years, what specific lapses in coverage have occurred, and to what extent were service members and their families affected? How many service members have experienced lapses in coverage related to duty status changes?
- What specific issues caused the lapses in coverage, and how were these issues identified and resolved?
- Are there technological issues that contributed to these lapses, either due to outdated systems or the possibility of human error in processing changes in duty status?
- Who is responsible for identifying and communicating issues related to eligibility for coverage?
- How can service members, their families, and military leadership verify service members’ TRICARE coverage enrollment status before, during, and after deployment?
- Does the transition between TRICARE Reserve Select and TRICARE Prime cause problems for service members and families because of the different network of providers? Would allowing service members and families to pay co-pays and premiums for TRICARE Reserve
Select as opposed to transitioning to TRICARE Prime lead to better care and more efficiency?
- How do full-time manning levels at the National Guard impact issues related to coverage lapses and force readiness?
- What impact do coverage lapses for service members and their families have on force readiness and force retention?
- What steps have been taken to ensure these types of lapses do not occur in the future? Are there further steps, legislative or otherwise, that are needed to prevent similar lapses in the future?
We share the goal of ensuring that the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces and their families have access to nothing short of the best care we can offer. For that reason, we request that the Government Accountability Office review the processes
that led to these lapses in coverage to avoid similar circumstances during future National Guard and Reserve deployments.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0