TRICARE online appointment online for doctor-in-office appointments is being added to a list of eligible online appointments for a first-in, first-served basis, according to a letter from the Secretary of Defense to the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
The letter, sent to Representative James McGovern, Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, comes as President Donald Trump has increased pressure on his administration to expedite the hiring of more doctors.
McGovern has requested that Defense Secretary James Mattis make public a list that the Pentagon lists on its website as eligible for an online appointment, saying in the letter that the service has “over 100,000” doctors available for an appointment online.
The full text of the letter was obtained by the Committee.
According to the letter, the Secretary has authorized a waiver to expand the availability of online appointment eligibility to include doctors for pediatric and adolescent services, a pediatric emergency room, and emergency department care.
The list, which the Department of Defense defines as medically necessary, is available to individuals who have not previously been enrolled in TRICare, as well as to those who are enrolled in the TRICares Direct Provider Network (DPN) managed care plans and have a valid medical certification.
The service will also expand its eligibility for doctors in a variety of medical settings, including urgent care centers, acute care hospitals, and outpatient facilities.
The Secretary also authorized a grant to the Department to purchase more TRICaring Preferred Preferred Provider Network managed care and DPN-managed care plans from a TRICaren program.
The waiver authority will also allow the Secretary to provide incentives to eligible providers to hire doctors for online appointments, as requested.
McGov said the waiver authority is a first step toward expanding TRICared Preferred Provider coverage and increasing access to medical care for veterans.
The Defense Department has been working on expanding TRicare online for a year.
The service has not yet launched a TRicARE Express program, which would allow veterans to enroll in Medicare online without having to travel to a medical facility, but it has been conducting pilot programs to help make it easier for veterans to find doctors online.
In August, the Department said it would begin a pilot program to enroll more veterans in TRicares Express plans.