Bill would require advance notice of military benefits changes

Legislation introduced by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) on Thursday would require TRICARE, the insurance provider for members of the military, to notify beneficiaries of policy changes 90 days ahead of time.

The Timely Information Management Enforcement Act would also allow the secretary of defense to determine if more than 90 days notice is needed for a specific policy change.

“Today I’m honored to announce the introduction of the TIME Act,” Ellmers said. “This bill addresses a problem facing tens of thousands of military members and their families who are left to navigate the bureaucracy of their health care benefits without adequate information and timely updates from their provider, TRICARE. For far too long, military families have been caught off guard by changes to policies and procedures regarding their benefits, leaving them ill-equipped to plan ahead and navigate their options effectively.”

The measure would apply to service members, their families and veterans who receive coverage from TRICARE.

Under the fiscal year 2015 budget proposed by the Pentagon on Wednesday, active-duty service members could face the first major increase in benefit costs since 1997. The exact amount hasn’t been released.

The average military retiree’s out-of-pocket costs for healthcare would increase from 8 percent to approximately 11 percent under the proposal, according to the Pentagon.

Ellmer’s bill was referred to the House Armed Services Committee.