Grave Concerns for Tricare Beneficiaries

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 27, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BERGMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for taking leadership on this; and I have to just correct one thing for the Record. I was born in Minnesota, but now I represent Michigan; and that is okay. I have roots in both because I was raised by a Minnesota farm girl, and now I am married to an Iowa farm girl. So now if we can get Iowa in there at some point, we will be in good shape. I will be happy at home.

When I just referenced my mom and my wife, my dad was in World War II. My father-in-law was in World War II. When we think about the sacrifices everyone in our country made, it was really the families that sacrificed on the front end to ensure that their loved ones, servicemembers deployed around the world to end the tyranny of World War II, that the family members at home sacrificed to ensure their servicemembers could fight the fight.

I think, today, it is true, and still is true, that when you talk about TRICARE and all the services that it provides, it is not about the servicemember, it is about the servicemember and their family because without the comfort of knowing that the family is being taken care of by the TRICARE system; that it is a system that does not institute change for the wrong reasons.

What we are hearing today, this is change for profit's sake, and that is the wrong reason.

So when you think about, what is readiness? Our troops have to be trained and ready to deploy at a moment's notice to protect our national security. That readiness includes family readiness.

Family readiness includes the availability of TRICARE, the availability of prescriptions, especially in my district, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and northern and lower Michigan, where we have a lot of rural and remote families that can't get to the pharmacy every day; that cannot--whether it is snowstorm, whether it is age, whatever it is, we need to ensure that our TRICARE system is robust, it is complete, it is fair pricing to make sure that, in the end, everybody wins, not just a couple.

We have got roughly--the Department of Defense requirements--TRICARE supports about 9.4 million servicemembers, retirees, and their families around the world. That doesn't seem like much in a Nation of 330 billion. But guess what? It means everything to that 9.4 million servicemembers and their families.

The comprehensive nature of TRICARE, as we saw during the COVID time, advancement of telehealth, the advancement of diagnosis, the advancement of treatments, prescriptions, and all of that, it all blends the work going forward and what we need to do to support our servicemembers and their families.

It is incumbent upon us, as Members of the House of Representatives, and the Senate, and the President, to ensure that no policy is put into place that gives any entity an unfair advantage when it comes to their priorities versus the needs and the priorities that we have and our commitment to our members of the Armed Forces.

So with that, we know this is ongoing; and I can tell you one thing, as a member of the VA Health Subcommittee, and on the Committee on Armed Services, I look at this issue from the front end of recruiting and enlistment standards, to retention, to retirement, to going into the VA system, all the way along in that servicemember's life and their family's life, and we are committed here to doing the right thing for those folks because they did the right thing for our country.