Military provider payments delayed indefinitely

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Sequestration cuts to the Defense Health Program (DHP) could leave Tricare network healthcare providers in limbo.

The projected $2.6 billion DHP cuts will delay Tricare contract payments to providers, according to a report from the Democratic Minority of the House Appropriations Committee. The Department of Defense's Tricare program provides health benefits for 3 million active and retired military members and their families.

The U.S. Department of Defense hasn't told providers when or how Tricare contract payments may be suspended.  It's also unclear whether Tricare network healthcare providers will keep treating military beneficiaries without contract payments, the report noted.

The report also suggests DOD healthcare funds could run out by August and civilian DOD medical employees could face furloughs.

With the drop in DOD healthcare funds, the Pentagon is focusing on ensuring medical treatment facilities and other in-house DOD hospitals and clinics maintain operations, al.com noted.

Of late, the military health program has been troublesome for providers and patients. UnitedHealth, which recently took over the contract to provide coverage to the western region of Tricare, has received more than a thousand customer service calls bemoaning long backlogs to reach customer service and delays for providers obtaining referrals.

Tricare members and physicians have been contacting lawmakers, who in turn have written to UnitedHealth executives for a solution, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the al.com blog post
- here's the report (.pdf)

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