By Libby Casey
The President may have signed a massive Democratic-sponsored health care bill into law last month, but Alaska Senator Mark Begich says Congress must also address the health care needs of military families.
He introduced a bill today that would extend insurance benefits to children of military families up to age 26.
Children of active-duty and retired military are currently covered by the Tri-Care insurance program until age 21, or 23 if they’re full time students.
But the health care bill signed into law last month lets adult children stay on their civilian parents’ insurance longer, until age 26 – and Begich says military families should have the same coverage. He says the Tri-Care military health insurance plan was separated out of the bigger health care bill, and now military families want to know how the benefits can extend do them.
Had received some calls, do we get that coverage, had to explain we kept the military out of this discussion, but it seemed such a good benefit for families to have that especially military families, active and retired, we thought it was a good move to move forward, and making sure they’re covered.
Begich is a co-sponsor of the Tri-care Dependent Coverage Extension Act, which is also being introduced by a Democrat in the House. If it passes it will bump up the age of kids covered to 26 starting on October first.
Begich was in Alaska over the recent spring recess, and says he had a lot of discussions with constituents about the health care bill. He says few people realize that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says it will reduce the deficit over the next decade. Republicans, including Senator Lisa Murkowski, say they think the C-B-O numbers are skewed and that the health care bill will cost more than estimated.
But Begich says the numbers add up to savings.
Actually it’s intriguing to watch people’s reactions. Because their reaction is well I didn’t realize that. I thought it was, well, fill in the blank, and then I say it’s not me that’s saying that, it’s an independent agency. Suddenly people… they have issues around healthcare but they like that component. It’s almost like if they could just have that, they’ll take that. But that’s a big piece, that’s one of the reasons I supported the legislation.
Begich says the Tri-care bill is one in a series of steps he’d like to see to improve conditions for military families. He says far more service men and women have dependents than they did 40 years ago.