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House NDAA addresses TRICARE, behavioral health

May 14, 2024
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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The newly released House National Defense Authorization Act is devoid of some of the culture war provisions that plagued last year's bill but contains some notable language on TRICARE and mental health.

Why it matters: The must-pass bill could yet become a magnet for controversial amendments on reproductive or transgender health, as well as the Biosecure Act or similar legislation addressing the reach of Chinese contract researchers in the U.S.

What's inside: The military personnel section of the bill has several measures aimed at improving quality of life for service members, which House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers has said is the top priority of the FY25 NDAA.

  • It would waive all fees and copays for the TRICARE dental program.
  • Two pilot programs would be established allowing dependents of service members who become pregnant to switch their health care to TRICARE, while another would address postpartum mental health conditions in members and dependents.
  • The bill asks for a report on medical issues affecting women during their military careers, such as menopause, in response to the increase in women serving in the armed forces.
  • It also requests a status update on a Pentagon program to study the use of psychedelics to treat conditions like PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, to ensure the effort is "progressing without impediments."
  • The NDAA requests a report to HASC on progress for the program by Jan. 31, 2025.

There's also a policy directing that service members should have access to a behavioral health appointment within three days of a referral.

What's next: House Armed Services is planning to mark-up the NDAA next week.

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