Portman unveils bill to expand retiree access to TRICARE healthcare plans

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said that lawmakers must continue to correct the disparities in how retired United States service members receive their TRICARE benefits.

Toward that goal, the senator on March 18 sponsored the bipartisan, bicameral TRICARE Fairness for National Guard and Reserve Retirees Act, S. 829, with cosponsor U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Companion legislation, H.R. 1997, also was introduced on March 18 by U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Dean Phillips (D-MN).

Under current law, reserve component personnel may retire below age 60 but not below 50 based on active duty service and are eligible for costly TRICARE plans, according to information provided by Sen. Portman’s office. 

If enacted, the measure would expand access to affordable health care for reserve component retirees who are eligible to receive retired pay before age 60 and would align the age at which many reserve component retirees begin receiving retired pay with the age at which they become eligible for less costly TRICARE healthcare plans, a change that could save these retirees thousands of dollars per year in premiums, the information states.

“We owe our service members a great debt of gratitude for the safety and freedom we enjoy every day,” Sen. Portman said. “I am happy that this bipartisan legislation will align the age at which many Retired Reserve personnel will become eligible to access affordable TRICARE health coverage.”

The National Guard of the United States, the Military Officers Association of America, and the Reserve Officers Association endorsed the bill.