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3,000 Tricare users in Washington State forced to use military facilities now

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Tricare has mandated that their members in Thurston and Pierce Counties in Washington State, who currently get care at private clinics and hospitals, now go to Madigan Army Medical Hospital on post or its affiliated clinics.

The new ruling will affect about 3,000 military family members in the two counties.

Maj. Michael Henry, Madigan’s Chief of Managed Care, made this statement regarding the change:

“They do not have a choice, so what we’re doing is really trying to make an effort to reach out to them to explain the changes.”

The "talking point" behind the change is for Tricare patients to visit Army clinics in Puyallup, Lacey, and on post, which they say are currently under utilized.

Cost cutbacks or reimbursements were not part of the public discussion, however, many private physicians and clinics refuse to accept new Tricare patients because Tricare's reimbursement to the provider is less than Medicaid.

Active-duty military members and their families who live within a 30-minute drive of said clinics will be notified of their new physicians over the next 60 days. The released statement did not indicate if non-active Tricare members would be notified in the same time-frame.

Tricare members with specific needs who would like to opt out may file an online waiver request at: http://www.mamc.amedd.army.mil .

Members with questions regarding the changes may call 253-968-0643, 968-3491, or 968-3348.

Examiner's Note: A "more than 30 minute drive" is a bit subjective, since traffic on Interstate 5 in the vicinity of JBLM has been a flash point for drivers for more than 40 years.

Criticism in the last year about increased traffic and increased construction in the area has caused WDOT and JBLM authorities to consider alternatives to get on post other than entering at the main gate.

Elderly veterans who try to avoid drive time and heavy traffic will find the Tricare changes inconvenient and maybe even dangerous. This is the face of America's new healthcare delivery system.

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Please email me at susyraybon@bellsouth.net if you find errors with content information or spelling. Thanks for reading and thanks for supporting the troops.

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