WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) legislation to help military retirees and their families stop smoking has been included as a provision in the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016. The Strong Lungs, Strong Lives Act of 2015 – inspired by the story of military veteran and Urbana resident Terrence Levesque – would ensure that military retirees and their families who are TRICARE for Life beneficiaries maintain coverage for FDA-approved smoking cessation prescription drugs. The provision would make a technical change to the NDAA to ensure that Medicare-eligible TRICARE beneficiaries are reimbursed for FDA-approved smoking cessation prescriptions to complement counseling and other smoking cessation efforts.
Levesque called Brown’s office when he realized his TRICARE would not cover the cost of any FDA-approved smoking cessation drugs. After his doctor prescribed him a smoking cessation medication to complement his smoking cessation counseling, Levesque found that he was unable to get the cost of the drug covered through TRICARE. Because Levesque was unable to cover the cost of the drug out of pocket, he could not access the tools he needed to quit smoking.
“We should be making it easier for our nation’s veterans to quit smoking, not placing additional barriers in their way. Every person who wants to quit smoking should have full access to the resources needed to do so,” Brown said. “The current gap in coverage has made it difficult for Medicare-eligible TRICARE beneficiaries to access the tools they need to help them quit. This bill will help ensure that TRICARE for Life insurance is fully serving the needs of our servicemembers, our veterans and their families.”
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