Tricare Networks Eyed To Improve Veterans' Access To Care

Tom Philpott | Stars and Stripes | September 6, 2012

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has proposed opening military Tricare networks of civilian health care providers to veterans who can’t get timely mental health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tricare networks currently exist to provide health care to military personnel and retirees, their families and survivors.

Two days after Romney’s pledge, President Obama signed an executive order with several new initiatives to improve access to mental health care services for veterans, servicemembers and their families. One directs VA and the Department of Health and Human Services to establish at least 15 pilot programs involving community-based health providers to expand mental health services in areas not well served by VA.  Another establishes an interagency task force on military and veterans’ mental health co-chaired by VA, DoD and HHS.

Not mentioned is an initiative to allow VA to refer veterans in need of immediate mental health care to Tricare network.  But Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said the Romney idea has real merit.  The former Massachusetts governor unveiled it in a speech last week to the American Legion conference in Indianapolis...