washingtonscene \\ COLA News //

COLA Sinking COLA hopes were dim- ming as the July Con- sumer Price Index dipped slightly. With two months to go in the fiscal year, inflation stood only 0.2 percent above the FY 2014 COLA baseline. Follow the trends at www

Commission’s proposals, while not without controversy, offer some ideas for reforms. Phasing in a 401(k)-style retirement plan for military personnel could give them more choice and greater certainty than the tradi- tional 20-year retirement track. Similarly, it’s possible that Tricare could provide bet- ter service at a lower cost if we empowered military families with more healthcare op- tions. Regardless of the particular reforms, it’s important that the government lives up to its obligations to current servicemembers and ensures that changes be made gradually and toward the goal of a competitive com- pensation package. Recent VA budgets have been increased substantially, but many wartime veterans will need continuing support for decades. What is your view on how this national ob- ligation can be met in the face of increasing budget constraints? GJ: We have a solemn duty to care for

veterans injured in war. The types of care our veterans need, especially for vets re- turning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, can last a lifetime. While I’m a critic of the misguided strategies that resulted in some of the deployments over the last 15 years, there is no doubt that we must pro- vide world-class care for troops injured in those deployments. It will be a top priority in my administration.


Changes The North and South regions are combining.


f you’re enrolled in TRICARE Prime in the South or West TRICARE regions, changes are coming next year. On July 21, DoD announced it is consolidating the current three TRICARE regions (North, South, and West) into two (East and West).

32 MILITARY OFFICER OCTOBER 2016 The new East region will combine the

old North and South regions and will cover Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; the District of Columbia; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; the Rock Island Arsenal area of Iowa; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Mis- sissippi; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Caro- lina; the St. Louis area; Tennessee; most of Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; and Wisconsin. The new contractor for the East region

will be Humana Government Business Inc., which currently manages the South region. The West region will remain unchanged

geographically, but the regional contractor will change next year from UnitedHealth- care to Health Net Federal Services LLC, which currently manages the North region. What does this mean for beneficiaries? Those in the current South region

probably won’t see much change, as their contractor will remain Humana. Those enrolled in the US Family Health Plan also will see no changes. For those in the current North and West

regions whose contractors will change, it depends on how many of the providers in their current contractor’s networks will agree to transition to their new contractor. In the past, new contractors have proven fairly successful in recruiting former con- tractors’ providers to continue participating. But it’s possible some number of beneficia- ries will need to switch to a new doctor. Regardless, these changes aren’t sched- uled to happen until next year, and there’s not even a specific date at this point. Several aspects of the new contracts should be positive for beneficiaries. Going from three contractors to two will mean less disruption for relocating families, as well as improved continuity of care and consistency of the benefit.

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