NU Online News Service, Oct. 7, 3:353 p.m. – Sierra Military Health Services Inc., a unit of Sierra Health Services Inc., Las Vegas, says the U.S. Department of Defense has announced plans to extend Sierra’s TRICARE contract for five years.

The Defense Department set up the TRICARE program four years ago in an effort to replace and improve existing military health programs for active-duty military personnel, military retirees and military dependents.

Sierra’s military health unit has been handling TRICARE services for 1 million people in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic region and the Washington area since the program was launched.

The new five-year contract extension is scheduled to take effect in June 2003, when the company’s original TRICARE contract expires.

The extension is subject to final federal approval, and the government will have the right to review and cancel the contract every year, Sierra says.