Kiggans Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Military Health Benefits

Apr 11, 2024
Armed Forces
Press

Legislation will improve healthcare benefits for National Guard and Reserve members

WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) introduced the Servicemember Healthcare Freedom Act of 2024 which would allow members of the Selected Reserve and National Guard who are employed by the federal government to choose between military and civilian healthcare plans. Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) joined the Congresswoman in this important effort in the House and Senator Blumenthal (CT) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.  

By allowing National Guard and Reserve members the option of choosing TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) benefits, the Servicemember Healthcare Freedom Act of 2024 aims to reduce out-of-pocket costs for these servicemembers, improve healthcare outcomes for them and their families, and increase military retention and readiness. Currently, federal law restricts National Guard and Reserve members who work as federal employees from receiving TRS benefits, preventing them from accessing more affordable healthcare options. There are more than 113,000 National Guard and Reserve members that are excluded from TRS as federal employees. 

“The men and women in the National Guard and Reserves stand ready to defend our nation at a moment’s notice and they deserve to have healthcare that is commensurate with their service,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “My bipartisan bill will give eligible members of the National Guard and Reserves the access to TRICARE they should already have. As a former Navy helicopter pilot, Navy wife, and now Navy mom, I will always fight to take care of our men and women in uniform!”

“Our National Guard and Reserve members bravely volunteer to wear our country’s uniform and deserve straightforward and comprehensive access to military benefits. I am proud to help introduce this legislation to urgently ensure thousands of federally employed servicemembers can access TRICARE coverage and select the healthcare plan that is best for them and their families. This important step would not only lower servicemembers’ healthcare costs and look after military families’ healthcare needs, but improve overall military retention and readiness.” said Congressman Kim.

“Servicemembers and their families make sacrifices every day in service to our country, and we have an obligation to make sure they have access to affordable, quality healthcare,” said Senator Blumenthal. “With the Servicemember Healthcare Freedom Act, we provide servicemembers the ability to choose which care plans best suit their needs, ensuring they are able to receive essential care while avoiding costly plans and expensive out-of-pocket costs.”

“Guardsmen have an unparalleled commitment to serving our country. Those who are also federal employees should not be penalized and forced into a more expensive healthcare plan,” said retired Maj. Gen. Francis M. McGinn, the NGAUS president. “Removing this barrier strengthens our federal workforce and eases the financial burden for our military families. It is a straightforward win. We appreciate Sen. Blumenthal for this effort and ask for the full support of Congress.”

“This pivotal legislation represents a significant stride forward in recognizing and addressing the unique needs of our service members who serve both in uniform and as civilians within the federal government. This bill is more than a policy change; it’s a testament to our Nation’s respect for their dual service and a commitment to their health and well-being. EANGUS supports this legislation and thanks Senator Blumenthal and Representatives Kim and Kiggans for their leadership. Together, we can enhance the readiness and vitality of our Armed Forces, ensuring they are as robust and resilient as the Nation they protect,” said Daniel Reilly, EANGUS President.

“It is unacceptable that more than one hundred thousand Reserve and National Guard service members and dual-status technicians must pay over 100 percent more for their healthcare until 2030,” said the Reserve Organization of America’s executive director Jeff Phillips. “ROA thanks Representatives Andy Kim and Jen Kiggans and Senator Richard Blumenthal for sponsoring the Servicemember Healthcare Freedom Act, which reduces out-of-pocket expenses and provides continuity of care for reserve component members and dual-status technicians to ensure readiness and improve retention now.”

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