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VFW Magazine March 2018 : Page 12

WASHINGTON WIRE, CONT. New Tricare Copayments Announced VFW’s Washington Office staff has been monitoring recent changes to Tricare, the health care program for active-duty troops, military retirees and their fami-lies. Here’s the latest. Veterans Sue VA for Nuclear Radiation Claims Veterans advocates filed a lawsuit in December that challenges the VA for allegedly denying benefits to the veterans who were part of a 1966 incident involv-ing nuclear radiation exposure. The nationwide class-action lawsuit, which is represented by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, was filed at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, D.C. The claim involves servicemen who were sent to a crash site for cleanup efforts near Palomares, Spain. According to a press release from Yale Law School, some 1,600 service-men were part of the cleanup effort. The lawsuit claims some were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation after a midair collision of Air Force planes released four hydrogen bombs over the southeast coast of Spain. The lead plaintiff in the cases retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Victor Skaar, stated that he “learned that the Air Force failed to follow up with necessary further testing,” and that VA continues to deny claims from the servicemen involved in the cleanup effort, which impacted the health of the veterans. The Palomares crash happened on Jan. 17, 1966, when a B-52G bomber col-lided with a KC-135 tanker during refuel-ing over the Mediterranean Sea. Three crewmembers on the B-52G died during the crash, and four survived. The KC-135 lost all four of its crewmembers during the incident. COPAYS FOR DOCTOR VISITS INCREASE SLIGHTLY After months of pressure by VFW, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) issued revised copay rates for the Tricare Select plan, which replaces the former Standard and Extra plans. DHA originally announced higher co-pays in September for mili-tary retirees, their dependents and active-duty family members. The new copays are $21 for Group A primary care visits for active-duty fam-ily members and $28 for retirees. DHA also announced reductions in specialty care, urgent care, emergency room visits and ambulance service are present for Group A. The new Select plan has two beneficiary groups: Group A, for individ-uals who served prior to Jan. 1, 2018, and Group B, for individuals who began their military service after that date. “The VFW is pleased that DHA listened to our concerns and took a second look at their calculations,” said VFW Commander-in-Chief Keith Harman. “Many Tricare beneficiaries, especially junior enlisted families, live off fixed incomes or from paycheck to paycheck, so every reduction — especially in health care costs — can help make a big difference in household budgets and their overall quality of life.” More information about changes to Tricare is in the Notice of Tricare Prime and Tricare Select Plan Information for Calendar Year 2018 , which is available to view at PHARMACY COPAYS INCREASE FOR SOME Tricare pharmacy copayments increased last month for certian beneficiaries. Those exempted from the increases are active-duty military members and their dependent survivors, as well as medically retired service members and their dependents. The change to the military’s health care program, which took effect on Feb. 1, came after President Donald Trump’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 . All Tricare beneficiaries still can fill prescriptions for no cost at military treatment facility pharmacies. However, those who receive their drugs through retail and home delivery services will see copayment increases. Changes to the retail network pharmacy (up to 30-day supply) copays are: • From $10 to $11 for generic formulary drugs. • From $24 to $28 for brand-name formulary drugs. • From $50 to $53 for non-formulary drugs. Changes to the Tricare pharmacy home delivery (up to 90-day supply) copays are: • From $0 to $7 for generic formulary drugs. • From $20 to $24 for brand-name formulary drugs. • From $49 to $53 for non-formulary drugs. Tricare pharmacy copayments remain the same as 2017 costs for medically retired service members and their dependents, as well as dependent survivors of active-duty service members. For additional information about changes to Tricare pharmacy copayments, visit: 12 • VFW  • MARCH 2018

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