Lawmakers have included a dental benefits program change that could affect 1.8 million Americans in a giant, must-pass package of defense funding legislation: the conference report for H.R. 5515.
Section 713 would put the managers of the Federal Employees Dental Insurance Program, or FEDVIP, in charge of the military’s TriCare Dental program.
The people who now have TriCare dental coverage — the family members of active-duty military personnel, non-activated members of the National Guard and Reserves, and family members of non-activated members of the Guard and Reserves — would move into FEDVIP.
Both the TriCare Dental program and FEDVIP are voluntary dental plans, meaning that the enrollees themselves pay the premiums.
TriCare Dental managers have been awarding a single contract to one insurer every seven years. United Concordia, a unit of Highmark Inc. of Pittsburgh, has been administering the TriCare Dental program since May 2017.
FEDVIP lets multiple insurers offer voluntary dental and vision plans.
If FEDVIP took over the TriCare Dental program,, United Concordia would probably lose the 1.7 million-enrollee TriCare Dental contract. FEDVIP would likely have United Concordia compete against other companies for the former TriCare Dental enrollees’ business.
H.R. 5515 Conference Report Basics
The H.R. 5515 conference report is a mix of the House and Senate versions of the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2019″ bill.
The full version of the legislation, and the accompanying explanatory notes, take up 2,552 pages.
Congress has to pass the report to keep the U.S. military going.
Members of the House passed the bill by a 359-54 vote Thursday. The Senate still has to consider the report, but one sign of how strong bipartisan support for the conference report is that House Democrats joined House Republicans in voting for the legislation.
Republicans backed the conference report by a 220-5 vote, and House Democrats backed it by a 139-49 vote.
A copy of the conference report is available here.
About 94% of the TriCare Dental program enrollees are in the United States, and about 110,000 are located outside the country, according to the Military Health System’s annual program evaluation.
The program has 99,218 dentists in its network.