ABC Fox Montana: Tester talks with veterans and servicemembers about improving TRICARE

by Joee Taylor

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Senator Jon Tester met with service members, veterans, and heath care providers in Great Falls to talk about the challenges they face when it comes to using TRICARE. 

TRICARE is the department of defense’s health care program And is supposed to deliver health care services for active duty, guard and reserve members, veterans, as well as their family members. 

In this roundtable discussion, many brought up issues on how TRICARE isn’t working in rural parts of the state as well as the bigger cities.

Issues with TRICARE include rising costs, a declining number of participating health care providers, and a loss of community pharmacy access that has impacted beneficiaries and independent pharmacies.

“It should be working where our providers get timely payments and appropriate payments and not have the uncertainty of potentially pulling payments back after they’ve already been delivered. Our veterans need to have it so that they know they can go to the provider and the provider is going to take them because they’re going to get those timely payments. And then on on the prescription drug side of things, making sure that those decisions are made between the doctor and the veteran so that there’s not uncertainty there,” said Tester. 

Tester says his next step is making a few phone calls to TRI-WEST, who manages the VA health care, United Health, who manages TRICARE, the secretary of the VA, and the secretary of defense to work on fixing some if not all of these issues mentioned.