NDAA Update: Mental Healthcare and Extended Benefits
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 includes several provisions to make mental health care more accessible and affordable for military families.
Military Family Life Counselors
First and most significant, Section 581 authorizes mental health professionals contracted with the Department of Defense to provide non-medical counseling services to service members and military families regardless of location. This will allow Military Family Life Counselors (MFLCs) to serve families in any state, not just the one they are licensed in, making their services more available to military families. We’re pleased Congress made this significant change, which we’ve advocated for years.
Congress also recognized that cost can be a barrier to accessing mental health care. Section 701 waives copays for up to three outpatient mental health visits for active duty family members and TRICARE Young Adult beneficiaries. While we appreciate this effort to limit families’ out-of-pocket costs for mental health care, we wish the provision included all TRICARE beneficiaries, including retiree families.
Hearing Aid Benefit
Finally, we appreciate that Congress took the long overdue step of extending coverage for hearing aids to retirees’ dependent children. However, it’s important to note that this coverage only includes families enrolled in TRICARE Prime.
Together We’re Stronger
While we are pleased to see the strides made in extending benefits and ease of access to mental health professionals, we will continue to press Congress to address the high cost of other specialty care, including speech, physical, and occupational therapy.
How will these changes impact your military family? What improvements would you like to see to the TRICARE benefit? Share your story with us!