MILITARY RETIREES: Medicare Choice Pilot Program Unveiled
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and Department of Defense Secretary William Cohen last week announced the TRICARE Senior Project, a demonstration project that will allow Medicare-eligible military retirees to receive comprehensive health care services through military health care facilities. Passed as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the project consists of two components. TRICARE Senior Prime will allow military health facilities in six sites to be treated as Medicare+Choice plans such as HMOs, and provide a full range of comprehensive health care benefits to enrolled retirees. The second component of the project, Medicare Partners, will permit those enrolled in a limited number of Medicare+Choice plans to receive Medicare services through military health care facilities. This option will enable Medicare+Choice plans to contract with DoD military facilities to provide specialty and inpatient care.
TRICARE, You'll Like It
"This project provides Medicare and the Department of Defense an opportunity to work together to increase choices available to military retirees who have served their country so well," said Shalala. Enrollment in the programs is expected to begin at the first sites this summer, with health care delivery taking effect 60 days after enrollment. To qualify, military enrollees must have received some care from military providers in the past or have become Medicare-eligible after December 31, 1997. Further, they must be participants in the Medicare fee-for-service program or switch from a Medicare HMO, continue to pay monthly Medicare Part B premiums, and agree to receive all their care through the demonstration. Enrollees in Medicare Partners must have membership with a Medicare+Choice plan that contracts with one of the participating military facilities. The demonstration will be conducted at certain military health facilities in Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, California, Washington and Delaware (release, 2/12).