Tester Urges Defense Department to Waive Health Care Premiums for 46,500 National Guard Members Returning from Fighting COVID-19 Crisis

Senator: “In this already uncertain and difficult time, these men and women should not be concerned about financial hardships in maintaining their families’ access to health care coverage”

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is urging the Department of Defense to provide financial relief from health care premiums for members of the National Guard returning to Reserve status after responding to the COVID-19 crisis. In the last four months, nearly 46,500 National Guard members in 45 states have been activated to fight on the front lines of the national health emergency.

“At a time when access to health care is of utmost importance to Americans and their families, servicemembers should not have to worry about this potentially burdensome expense as they return home following their sacrifices to keep their country healthy,” Tester wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. “As such, I request that you waive the requirement that these individuals pay for two months of premiums in advance to better assist their transition back to civilian life.”

In Congress, Tester led the charge to expand Title 32 authorities for the men and women of the National Guard responded to the national health emergency. Following weeks of pressure, he successfully pushed the Administration to authorize Title 32 status for National Guard members, allowing servicemembers the opportunity to receive additional benefits for their extended service during the pandemic. Part of these increased benefits included not having to pay TRICARE premiums for health care coverage for themselves and their families. However, when these servicemembers return to Reserve status, they are required to pay two months of premiums in advance to maintain health care coverage under TRICARE Reserve Select.

Tester noted, “In this already uncertain and difficult time, these men and women should not be concerned about financial hardships in maintaining their families’ access to health care coverage.”

Read Tester’s full letter to Secretary Esper HERE.