News

Tricare boost likely for hospital

An increase in Tricare payments for Whidbey General Hospital and other critical access hospitals across the country has local veterans and health care professionals breathing a little easier.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen applauded the recent announcement that the federal government approved the rule change he had earlier requested. The reimbursement increase for Tricare, which is the military’s medical benefits program, will help ensure that local service members, military families and veterans continue to have access to health care.

“Today’s announcement means that we have cleared all the major hurdles and are well on our way to increased Tricare payments for Whidbey General Hospital,” Larsen said in a news release.

Whidbey General serves a large portion of military service members, veterans, and their families on Whidbey Island. With the October 2007 reduction of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s emergency care services, the military community has increasingly relied on the local critical access hospital for needed care.

Tricare’s prohibitively low reimbursement level had placed Whidbey General in a tight spot, creating the risk that the hospital would be forced to cease serving Tricare beneficiaries. When the possibility was announced last year there was an uproar among those dependent on Tricare.

Larsen requested a rule change that would raise Tricare payments to the same level as Medicare rates so Whidbey General can continue to provide health care to the military population. For the proposed rule change to be become final, it will need approval from the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense. Larsen has worked to secure approval from both agencies.

The rule change is now subject to a 30-day public comment period after which agencies will determine if any changes need to be made before the final rule can be published as a formal regulation.

“The community has waited a long time for increased Tricare payments, and the wait is almost over,” Larsen said.

An increase in Tricare payments for Whidbey General Hospital and other critical access hospitals across the country has local veterans and health care professionals breathing a little easier.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen applauded the recent announcement that the federal government approved the rule change he had earlier requested. The reimbursement increase for Tricare, which is the military’s medical benefits program, will help ensure that local service members, military families and veterans continue to have access to health care.

“Today’s announcement means that we have cleared all the major hurdles and are well on our way to increased Tricare payments for Whidbey General Hospital,” Larsen said in a news release.

Whidbey General serves a large portion of military service members, veterans, and their families on Whidbey Island. With the October 2007 reduction of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s emergency care services, the military community has increasingly relied on the local critical access hospital for needed care.

Tricare’s prohibitively low reimbursement level had placed Whidbey General in a tight spot, creating the risk that the hospital would be forced to cease serving Tricare beneficiaries. When the possibility was announced last year there was an uproar among those dependent on Tricare.

Larsen requested a rule change that would raise Tricare payments to the same level as Medicare rates so Whidbey General can continue to provide health care to the military population. For the proposed rule change to be become final, it will need approval from the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense. Larsen has worked to secure approval from both agencies.

The rule change is now subject to a 30-day public comment period after which agencies will determine if any changes need to be made before the final rule can be published as a formal regulation.

“The community has waited a long time for increased Tricare payments, and the wait is almost over,” Larsen said.

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