U.S. Rep. Pat Ryan is pushing federal legislation that, if enacted, would extend healthcare benefits to the children of military members who are younger than 26 years old.
Ryan, D-Gardiner, who represents the 18th Congressional District, announced his bill, known as the “Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act,” during a press conference at Dutchess Community College on Wednesday.
The legislation would extend TRICARE health care coverage of active duty and retired beneficiaries who have adult children younger than 26 years old, Ryan’s office said.
Under current law, TRICARE dependents may only remain on their parents’ policy until they are 21 years old. If they are enrolled as full-time students in an approved institution and if their parent pays more than half of their financial support, dependents may remain on their parents’ policy until they turn 23 years old or are out of school, whichever comes first.
“Military families have sacrificed so much for this country — it’s absolutely unacceptable that they don’t have access to the same health care as every other American,” Ryan said in a statement. “I’m proud that my legislation will right this wrong, delivering much-needed relief to military families across the country. By extending TRICARE eligibility to 26, hundreds of thousands of military families will save as much as $6,840 per year.”
“Our military families have stepped up and sacrificed for us, now we need to do right by them,” added Ryan, who is an Iraq war veteran.
Others weighed in on the proposal including Orange County resident Vicki Jackson, a member of Ryan’s Veterans and Military Families Advisory Committee from Orange County.
“This legislation would be a game-changer for families like mine, both in the Hudson Valley and across the country,” Jackson said in a statement.
“My husband is still active duty and we’ve been worried about paying the TRICARE premium increase when our son finishes school. The savings from this bill will remove that worry, providing direct relief at a time when so many families are feeling the strain on their wallets.”
Military officials agreed that the benefits are well-deserved.
“Military kids face many challenges including frequent moves, school transitions, and family separations,” said Military Officers Association of America President and chief executive officer Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force. “As they transition to adulthood, military kids deserve the same health care protections as their peers covered by commercial plans.”
Dependents have the option to enroll in the TRICARE Young Adult program, and almost 40,000 military families choose to do so, Ryan’s office said. However, they must spend between $291 and $570 per month to cover the full cost of the program via a separate monthly premium.
Ryan’s legislation brings young adult dependents coverage in line with that offered by private insurance plans.
Under the Affordable Care Act, children up to the age of 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans with no additional out-of-pocket costs.
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