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ARLINGTON, Va. — Instead of expiring Oct. 31, Tricare’s Reserve Family Demonstration Benefit has been extended for two years, to Oct. 31, 2007.

William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, approved the extension to the program “in order to ensure continuity of care” for reserve families, Tricare spokeswoman Linda Foote told Stripes by telephone Monday.

The benefit is open to families of the 170,000 Reserve and National Guard members who have been called to active duty for periods of more than 30 days in support of Operation Noble Eagle/Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Tricare Standard and Extra’s annual outpatient deductibles are waived, saving families up to $300. The benefit also authorizes Tricare to pay nonparticipating providers up to 115 percent of the Tricare maximum allowable charge and waives the pre-authorization requirement for nonemergency inpatient civilian care at civilian hospitals.

This is the second time Winkenwerder has decided to keep the demonstration program going, Foote said.

Congress authorized the program in the 2002 defense budget, saying the program should end Oct. 31, 2003. However, the authorization included language that said Winkenwerder could extend the program for additional two-year increments as he saw fit.

For more information on the Reserve Family Demonstration Benefit, go to www.tricare.osd.mil/reserve.

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