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Begich Introduces Bill to Extend Health Insurance Coverage for Children of Military Families


Extends TRICARE for dependents up to age 26

In an effort to extend health care benefits for dependents of Alaska military members and retirees, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has introduced the TRICARE Dependent Coverage Extension Act.

Because the recently signed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exempts TRICARE programs from the law, military families are unable to benefit from the provision of the new health care legislation that extends health care coverage for dependents up to age 26.

Begich’s bill would allow unmarried military and retiree dependents, who do not have access to employer-sponsored coverage, to remain in the TRICARE program through the age of 26.

“Being able to cover dependents on your health insurance plan up to age 26 is a key piece of the health insurance reform legislation and will allow thousands of Alaskans to keep their children on their policies saving families the extraordinary costs that can be incurred for medical treatment,” Begich said. “Extending that same benefit to our military families is the right thing to do as we continually strive to make sure we show appreciation for their service to our country.”

Currently, the TRICARE program insures children up to the age of 21 or age of 23 if they are full-time college students. That will jump to age 26 when this measure passes. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). A similar piece of legislation has been introduced in the House by Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Several veterans’ organizations and Alaskans across the state have raised the concern to Sen. Begich, a member of the Veterans Affairs and Senate Armed Services Committees, about the dependent coverage issue.

The health reform legislation signed by President Obama last month mandates private insurance companies extend health care to children up to age 26 by September. If approved, Begich’s bill would go into effect on Oct 1, 2010.
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