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March 1, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (NV-03), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement announcing that she is co-leading the bipartisan Health Coverage for Reservists and Guardsmen Act with Republican Rep. Trent Kelly (MS-01). Under current law, guardsmen and reservists are eligible for health insurance through TRICARE Reserve Select, a special health insurance system created just for them. However, federal employees who also happen to be guardsmen or reservists are ineligible for Reserve Select coverage. This bill would bring parity for these federal employees.

“Expanding access to affordable health care for our servicemembers is one the most important steps we can take to ensure those who have sacrificed so much to serve our country are taken care of,” said Rep. Rosen. “I’m proud to work across the aisle and co-lead this legislation which will allow all servicemembers in the reserve component, regardless of whether they are a federal employee, access to affordable, quality care under the TRICARE Reserve Select health program. Granting our servicemembers the ability to choose their own health care plans based on quality and cost of care is the very least we can do to help the brave men and women who serve our country."

“The men and women in the National Guard and Reserves and their families deserve the same access to available health care choices,” said Rep. Kelly. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this legislation and make a straight-forward and smart fix to an unfair bureaucratic restriction.  This bill will provide dual-status military technicians in the National Guard and Reserves with the choice to purchase TRICARE Reserve Select coverage instead of the Federal Employee Health Benefit option.”  

BACKGROUND: Currently, federal employees who happen to be guardsmen or reservists can get their health coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). However, FEHBP plans are prohibitively expensive for some, even with the federal cost-share. TRICARE Reserve Select, which is also a quality coverage program, is more affordable, but unavailable to guard/reserve federal employees, including thousands of military mechanics, many of whom work at Nellis Air Force Base. The limitation does not exist for reservists and guardsmen working in the private sector, even though they too may have access to alternative health insurance through their employer. In addition to expanding coverage, such a change would save the federal government $1.3 billion over ten years by lowering the cost to the government for the FEHBP program and broadening the risk pool for Reserve Select by bringing in new participants who are younger and healthier than the average enrollee.  

In addition to co-leading this legislation, Congresswoman Rosen is one of five original co-sponsors of the FAIR Heroes Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide disabled veterans, who are medically retired from the military, the ability to choose between TRICARE and Medicare Part B, whichever health plan works best for their families. This bill could potentially save many veterans up to $1,300 a year on their health care costs.