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Rep. Darrell Issa
Rep. Darrell Issa's bill hopes to protect veterans' healthcare by extending the deadline for policy changes. Photo via Facebook
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Congressman Issa introduces military retiree healthcare bill

REGION — Congressman Darrell Issa, who represents the 50th Congressional District, introduced a bill last week that aims to protect military retiree healthcare by extending the deadline for military veterans to transition into new healthcare policy changes.

Since January 1, 2021, certain TRICARE retirees (who entered the military before January 1, 2018) have 180 days to establish a payment plan for new enrollment fees.

The TRICARE Retiree Protection Act would extend the 180-day grace period to one year, to prevent these veterans from losing their health coverage.

According to the bill, covered beneficiaries that have not received covered notice, can also, at any time during 2021, re-enroll in TRICARE Select.

“When it comes to our veterans, promises made must be promises kept. The TRICARE Retiree Protection Act is common-sense reform to extend a transition period so military retirees don’t lose health care coverage for themselves and their families,” Issa said. “I am proud to work with Senators Daines and Manchin to ensure that this consensus solution goes forward and protects those who served our country.”

TRICARE is the federal health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families around the world and is managed by the Defense Health Agency under the Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the companion legislation in February 2021.

Issa, an army veteran himself, has spoken about veterans and the military as one of his key platforms.

“Service members and veterans come from all walks of life and all corners of the country to protect and defend this great nation through military service.  The federal government must keep its commitment to our hardworking, committed veterans to deliver the care and services they have earned,” says Issa’s website.

The new bill comes in the midst of a congressional probe led by Issa into the Pentagon’s denial of permits for a Memorial Day charity event that has been held annually in Washington, D.C., for more than 30 years.

The event, called Rolling to Remember motorcycle ride, formerly known as Rolling Thunder, brings veterans and others to the area to commemorate war veterans, including prisoners of war and those missing in action.

On May 6, Issa introduced the Let Veterans Remember the Fallen Act, a legislation that would require the Pentagon to host the Rolling to Remember event.

The 50th District encompasses the central and northeastern parts of San Diego County and a portion of Riverside County, including the communities of Fallbrook, San Marcos, Valley Center, Ramona, Escondido, Santee, Lakeside, El Cajon, Temecula and the mountain and desert areas of the San Diego-Imperial County line.