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NGAUS Legislative Alert #16-3; 22 February 2016

February 22, 2016

The Issue: Extended TRICARE Program Coverage for Certain Members of the National Guard and Dependents during Certain Disaster Response Duty.

Immediate Action Required: Contact your representatives immediately and ask them to support H.R. 4554, a bill sponsored by Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Washington.

NGAUS strongly supports H.R. 4554, a bill that would provide states the authority to extend health care coverage for National Guard members and their families when the member is temporarily ordered into State Active Duty to assist with a natural disaster or emergency, in specific instances.

Since 2010, hundreds of National Guard members have begun serving on full-time federal duty status as part of the Department of Defense’s Homeland Response Force (HRF). These units provide our nation with rapid response capabilities in the event of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incidents. Given their full-time federal status, these members and their families are eligible for federal health benefits.

HRF units are also used to respond to state and local emergencies at state expense and under control of the governor. However, for these Guard members to assist in a state emergency, they must be taken off full-time Federal duty status and placed temporarily into State active duty status, causing a break in TRICARE benefits for them and their families. While states reimburse the Department of Defense for resources used to activate HRF units for state emergencies, current law prevents them from paying to extend health coverage for these Guard members during these short periods of time.

In state emergencies, this means governors and military commanders are forced to choose between not using well-trained HRF personnel or disrupting health care coverage for these Guard members and their families.

This bill provides states the authority to extend health care coverage to members of the National Guard during state active duty status emergencies and requires them to reimburse DoD for health coverage for the period they are off federal duty.

Please contact your representatives and urge them to support this bill.


By using the Write to Congress feature on the NGAUS website at, you can IMMEDIATELY email your elected representatives. A sample letter is included in Write to Congress. You can email the prewritten message or edit the sample letter as you desire. This is the quickest and most effective method of expressing your views to Congress. Also, contact your friends and family members and urge them to use Write to Congress as well. For further information and background visit our website at Please direct any questions concerning this issue to Grace Washbourne, NGAUS legislative program manager for joint programs, at 202-408-5893 or via email at

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