Bipartisan legislation provides health care coverage to members of Maine Army National Guard and National Guard and Reserve troops across the country
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Healthcare for Our Troops Act, bipartisan legislation to provide premium-free medical insurance coverage for members of the National Guard and Reserve.
The Healthcare for Our Troops Act addresses one of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau’s most pressing concerns: health care for our troops, no matter the duty status. Sixteen percent of Reserve and National Guard members – roughly 130,000 men and women who have volunteered to serve our country – do not have private health insurance. This legislation would ensure that members of the National Guard, including those preparing to go overseas, would not have to worry about retaining their health care once their duty status changes.
After being informed by members of the Maine National Guard about this issue, Senator Collins raised it directly with a Department of Defense official at an Appropriations hearing earlier this year.
“Maine Guard members have told me that there is a need to extend TRICARE Reserves Select at no cost to the Guard members who do not currently qualify for premium free TRICARE. This is of utmost importance to servicemembers whose duty status changes, such as the Maine Guard members who deployed to Poland in May,” said Senator Collins. “Ensuring that all of our troops have access to health care is not just the right thing to do, but it enhances military readiness as well. Our bipartisan bill would ensure that Guard and Reserve members maintain consistent and reliable health care, including the roughly 130,000 who currently lack private health insurance.”
“Our National Guard and Reserve members make sacrifices every day to keep us safe, and yet too many of them struggle to access affordable health care. By providing these benefits, our service members will lead healthier lives, improve their readiness for deployment and devote more time to valuable training,” said Senator Baldwin. “Providing all service members with the health coverage they deserve is not only an investment in our national security, it is also the right thing to do.”
The Healthcare for Our Troops Act would provide premium-free, zero cost-sharing medical coverage for Selected Reserve members eligible for TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) and address financial barriers to seeking mental health care. In addition to providing health insurance, the legislation would require a study on eliminating annual physicals during drill and replacing them with forms to be completed by civilian providers to assess medical readiness – giving commanders back valuable training days and saving over $162 million annually in contracted medical assessments. The legislation would also create an incentive for employers to hire Guard and Reserve members by lessening demand for employer-sponsored healthcare plans.
This bill is a companion to bipartisan legislation introduced in the House, led by Rep. Kim (D-NJ) and Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) with a group of 27 bipartisan cosponsors.
A one pager on the legislation is available HERE.
Full text of the legislation is available HERE.