Washington, D.C.— Today, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the statement below on the House floor urging his colleagues to support his legislation, H.R. 4887, which would explicitly state that TRICARE and nonappropriated fund (NAF) health plans meet all of the health care requirements for individual health insurance currently under consideration by Congress (watch video of the floor statement here: http://armedservices.house.gov/video/TRICAREaffirmation.wmv ). While beneficiaries of these programs will already meet the minimum requirements for individual health insurance and will not be required to purchase additional coverage, the TRICARE Affirmation Act would provide clarification by changing the tax code to state it in law. The bill was approved by a vote of 403 to 0.
“Madam Speaker, it is a commonly known fact that I oppose the health care reform bill as it exists currently and will vote against it tomorrow. But, my duty as the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee compels me to ensure that the health care of our brave service men and women, our military retirees, and all of their family members is protected if the bill does indeed pass.
“In the health care bill currently under consideration in Congress, TRICARE and the Non-Appropriated Fund health plans, the programs that provide health care for these individuals, will meet the minimum requirements for individual health insurance coverage, and no TRICARE or NAF health plan beneficiary will be required to purchase additional coverage beyond what they already have.
“However, to reassure our military service members and their families and make it perfectly clear that they will not be negatively affected by this legislation, my bill, H.R. 4887, explicitly states in law that these health plans meet the minimum requirements for individual health insurance.
“Our brave men and women in uniform provide us with first-class protection, and it is our obligation to provide them—and their families—with first-class health care in return. Every day, our troops risk their lives to stand up for us on the battlefield, and I now ask my colleagues—no matter what your position may be on health care reform itself—to join me in standing up for our service members and their families.
“Nobody knows what the fate of the health care bill will be tomorrow, but by supporting H.R. 4887, we will at least know that we have protected those men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect us.
“We must affirm for our military service members and their families that even if the health reform bill passes, the coverage provided by TRICARE and the Non-Appropriated Fund health plans will be properly defined in law as meeting the minimum requirements for individual health insurance.”