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Military clinics may see appointment delays under shutdown

Oct. 1, 2013 - 01:15PM   |  

Inpatient, acute and emergency outpatient care in military medical and dental facilities will continue during the government shutdown, but patients could feel the effects of the budget stalemate in other ways, Defense Health Agency officials said Tuesday.

DHA officials said in a statement that Tricare beneficiaries who use private-sector providers for their health care should feel “little or no effect” from the shutdown.

But “local hospital and clinic commanders will need to implement required adjustments to available medical services while ensuring that the quality of care and safety of patients remain intact,” DHA officials said in a statement.

Appointments for care, for example, may be affected by reduced manpower under the shutdown.

“Patients should contact their hospital or clinic to confirm previously scheduled routine appointments,” officials said. “Patients needing to schedule new routine appointments might experience delays.”

Officials also said travel claims under Tricare Prime and the Combat-Related Specialty Care program cannot be paid as long as the shutdown lasts, although beneficiaries can still file such claims, which will be reviewed for eligibility and processed accordingly once the shutdown ends.

Those two programs may reimburse travel expenses when a beneficiary is referred for nonemergency specialty care that requires traveling more than 100 miles.

DHA urged beneficiaries with questions about their benefis to contact the managed-care contractor for the Tricare region in which they live. Contact information for all Tricare regions is at www.tricare.mil/Welcome/AboutUs/Regions.

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