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Reps. Phillips, Johnson Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Provide Affordable Health Coverage for Retired National Guard and Reserve Personnel

Today, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) helped introduce, H.R. 1997, the TRICARE Fairness for National Guard and Reserve Retirees Act. Co-led with Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), this bipartisan bill would correct an inconsistency in federal law and lower health care costs for thousands of Minnesota veterans.

Under current law, retired members of the National Guard and Reserve under the age of 60 are not eligible to purchase TRICARE health plans specifically designed for retired military personnel. The bill would ensure all Retired Reserve personnel can access the benefits earned from their years of service.

“As a Gold Star Son, I know that our service members deserve our utmost respect and unbending support,” said Rep. Phillips. “Providing affordable, high-quality health care should be the minimum standard of support afforded to our service members, especially those in the National Guard and Reserve who have earned early retirement. H.R. 1997 brings our nation one step closer to this goal, which is why I am proud to have introduced it alongside Rep. Johnson.”

Rep. Johnson added: “With everything our National Guard and Reserve members do for us, the least we can do is ensure that when they finish their service to our country and retire, they are not forced to wait up to ten years before being eligible for the less costly TRICARE healthcare plans they have earned. We owe it to them to get this legislation across the finish line.”

The companion legislation in the Senate is being sponsored by Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Statements of Support for H.R. 1997:

Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO: “Our nation asks a lot from the reserve component, both abroad and at home. The least we can do after a career of service and sacrifice is to ensure fair health care access for all retirees who are drawing retirement pay. MOAA strongly supports the TRICARE Fairness for National Guard and Reserve Retirees Act and urges swift passage.”

Reserve Organization of American (ROA): “ROA appreciates the TRICARE Fairness for National Guard and Reserve Retirees Act that Representatives Bill Johnson and Dean Phillips are introducing on behalf of our Citizen Warriors. For too many years these warriors have paid double what other retirees pay for TRICARE health care. When Congress passed early age retiree legislation it was to recognize the lengthy deployments to Iran and Iraq by Reserve and National Guard. ROA President, Judith Davenport, observed, too often these warriors suffer from toxic exposure, IEDs and other injuries and they should not be punished with higher health care costs!”