The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 (H.R. 6395) was presented to the President last week and includes a provision to repeal a transition of the administration of TRICARE dental plans for Active-Duty family members, non-activated National Guard/Reserve members, family members of National Guard/Reserve members, and certain survivors to FEDVIP.[i] The provision being repealed was originally included in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2019[ii] and would have been effective Nov. 1, 2022.
According to the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference for NDAA for FY 2021, “The conferees have become aware of certain significant challenges associated with a change in the administration of the Tricare Dental Program and the potential negative impact such change may have on dental benefits for eligible TRICARE beneficiaries. As a result, the conferees determine to repeal the underlying statutes that have directed this administrative change.”
A similar transition was ordered in the NDAA for FY 2017 and became effective in 2019 for the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program.[iii] As of 2019, retired uniformed service members and their families who were eligible for the Tricare Retiree Dental Program became eligible to enroll in dental coverage under the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), which is offered by private plans and managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The FY 2019 legislation also required the Department of Defense to submit a report not later than January 1, 2020 on the transition in the administration of the TRICARE dental plan to FEDVIP for retirees. The report is available online here.
NDAA for FY 2021, as presented to the President, does not address or otherwise rollback this 2019 change. Dental care benefits options should remain the same as currently available for categories of beneficiaries as described online here.
Congressional Armed Services Committees and related legislation are not Committees or issues NADP closely monitors but the above repeal may have come as a surprise to do those who do. Prior to Conference Committee, a Senate amendment to NDAA for FY 2021 would have delayed implementation from Jan. 1, 2022 to Jan. 1, 2023 while the House bill included no similar provision. The blanket repeal was raised and included in/during Conference Committee.
[i] See Sec. 711 at https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20201207/CRPT-116hrpt617.pdf. Conference Committee report explanation is on page 3901.
[ii] Legislation: the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2019 https://www.congress.gov/115/plaws/publ232/PLAW-115publ232.pdf
See Section 713: “Administration of TRICARE dental plans through the federal employees dental and vision insurance program.” (page 177)
10 U.S. Code § 1076a – TRICARE dental program
[iii] Legislation: 2017 National Defense Authorization Act https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-114publ328/pdf/PLAW-114publ328.pdf. See Section 715: “Eligibility of Certain Beneficiaries under the Tricare Program for Participation in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program” (page 223).
10 U.S. Code § 1076c – Dental insurance plan: certain retirees and their surviving spouses and other dependents