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Proposed Rule

TRICARE; Reserve and Guard Family Member Benefits

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

This proposed rule would implement sections 704 and 705 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005. These provisions would apply to eligible family members who become eligible for TRICARE as a result of their Reserve Component (RC) sponsor (including those with delayed effective date orders up to 90 days) being called or ordered to active duty for more than 30 days in support of a federal/contingency operation and choose to participate in TRICARE Standard or Extra, rather than enroll in TRICARE Prime. The first provision would provide the Secretary the authority to waive the annual TRICARE Standard (or Extra) deductible, which is set by law (10 U.S.C. 1079(b)) at $150 per individual and $300 per family ($50/$150 for families of members in pay grades E-4 and below). The second provision would provide the Secretary the authority to increase TRICARE payments up to 115 percent of the TRICARE maximum allowable charge, less the applicable patient cost share if not previously waived under the first provision, for covered outpatient health services received from a provider that does not participate (accept assignment) with TRICARE. These provisions would help ensure timely access to health care and maintain clinically appropriate continuity of health care to family members of Reservists and Guardsmen activated in support of a federal/contingency operation; limit the out-of-pocket health care expenses for those family members; and remove potential barriers to health care access by Guard and Reserve families.

DATES:

Written comments received at the address indicated below by October 23, 2006.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by docket number and or RIN number and title, by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Start Printed Page 48865
  • Mail: Federal Docket Management System Office, 1160 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1160.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at http://regulations.gov as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

LT COL James Whitton, Strategic Initiatives Division, TRICARE Operations, TRICARE Management Activity, telephone (703) 681-0039.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction and Background

On November 5, 2001, the Department of Defense (DoD) published notice of a nationwide TRICARE Demonstration Project (66 FR 55928-55930). This demonstration was conducted under the authority of 10 U.S.C. 1092. In this demonstration project, DoD addressed unreasonable impediments to the continuity of health care encountered by certain family members of Reservists and National Guard called to active duty in support of a federal contingency operation for more than 30 days. On November 12, 2003, DoD published a notice (68 FR 64087) to extend through October 31, 2004, the demonstration project which was scheduled to end on November 1, 2003. On October 1, 2004, the DoD published another notice (69 FR 58895) extending the demonstration project, previously scheduled to end on October 31, 2004, to October 31, 2005. On October 12, 2005, DoD published a notice (70 FR 59320) to extend the demonstration project, previously scheduled to end on October 31, 2005, to October 31, 2007. The continued deployment of RC members in support of Operation Noble Eagle/Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom warrants making permanent the Secretary's authority to exercise certain components of this demonstration project. Sections 704 and 705 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 provide DoD authority to make two components of the demonstration project permanent and amend section 1095d(a) and section 1079(h) of Title 10, United States Code, as appropriate. In accordance with these two statutory provisions, DoD proposes to implement this discretionary authority.

II. Permanent Benefits Offered to Reserve Component Families

A. Waiver of deductible (paragraph 199.4(f)(2)(i)(H)). Eligible family members of RC sponsors called or ordered to active duty for more than 30 days in support of a federal contingency operation, who choose to participate in TRICARE Standard, may not be responsible for paying the annual TRICARE Standard deductible. By law, the TRICARE Standard deductible for active duty family members is $150 per individual, $300 per family ($50/$150 for E-4s and below) each fiscal year. Exercise of the authority to waive this annual deductible would appropriately limit out-of-pocket expenses for many Reserve and Guard family members, in consideration of the fact that many may have already paid annual deductibles under their civilian health plan.

B. Increased payment to providers (paragraph 199.14(j)). Executive of the authority contained in this program would allow an increase in TRICARE payments up to 115 percent of the TRICARE maximum allowable charge, less the applicable patient cost share if not previously waived under the first provision, for outpatient care received from a provider that does not participate (acept assignment) under TRICARE. This would help Reserve and Guard family members be able to continue to see civilian providers with whom they would ahve established relations and would promote access and clinically appropriate continuity of care.

III. Regulatory Procedures

Executive Order 12866 requires certain regulatory assessments for any significant regulatory action that would result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. The Congressional Review Act establishes certain procedures for major rules, defined as those with similar major impacts. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that each Federal agency prepare, and make available for public comment, a regulatory flexibility analysis when the agency issues a regulation that would have significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. This proposed rule would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. An IGCE estimates the annual cost for both of these provisions at less than $30 million.

This rule, however, does address a novel policy issues relating to waiving the deductibles for one category of family member beneficiaries and not others, as well as allowing providers who treat this same group of beneficiaries to receive reimbursement at a higher rate than providers who treat similar beneficiaries. Thus this rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget under E.O. 12866.

This rule will not impose additional information collection requirements on the public under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3511).

We have examined the impact(s) of the proposed rule under Executive Order 13132 and it does not have policies that have federalism implications that would have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, therefore, consultation with State and local officials is not required.

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List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 199

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Accordingly, 32 CFR part 199 is proposed to be amended as follows:

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PART 199—[AMENDED]

1. The authority citation for part 199 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 10 U.S.C. chapter 55.

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2. Section 199.4 is proposed to be amended by revising paragraph (f)(2)(i)(H) to read as follows:

Basic program benefits.
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(f) * * *

(2) * * *

(i) * * *

(H) The Director, TRICARE Management Activity, may waive the annual individual or family fiscal year deductible for dependents of a Reserve Component member who is called or ordered to active duty for a period of more than 30 days or a National Guard member who is called or ordered to full-time federal National Guard duty for a period of more than 30 days in support of a contingency operation (as defined in 10 U.S.C. 101(a)(13)). For purposes of this paragraph, a dependent is a lawful husband or wife of the member and a child as defined in paragraphs (b)(2)(ii)(A) through (F) and (b)(2)(ii)(H)(1), (2), and (4) of § 199.3.

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3. Section 199.14 is proposed to be amended by adding paragraph (j)(1)(i)(E) to read as follows:

Provider reimbursement methods.
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(j) * * *

(1) * * *

(i) * * *

(E) Special rule for certain TRICARE Standard Beneficiaries. In the case of a dependent spouse or child, as defined in paragraphs (b)(2)(ii)(A) through (F) and (b)(2)(ii)(H)(1), (2), and (4) of § 199.3, of a Reserve component member serving on active duty pursuant to a call or order to active duty for a period of more than 30 days in support of a contingency operation under a provision of law referred to in section 101(a)(13)(B) of title 10, United States Code, the Director, TRICARE Management Activity, may authorize for non-participating providers the allowable charge to be the lower of the billed amount or 115% of the applicable balance billing limit under paragraph (j)(1)(i)(C) of this section, less the applicable beneficiary cost share.

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August 15, 2006.

L.M. Bynum,

OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.

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[FR Doc. E6-13720 Filed 8-21-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 5001-06-P