Saturday, October 11, 2003

The overwhelming senatorial support for a bill to extend military health care benefits to activated Guard and Reserve members and their families just might be what is needed to get the White House to do an about face, two senators said.

“This train has left the station, and in some ways, I think they’d have no choice but to hop on board,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said of the administration’s leadership.

Extending the health coverage to Guard and Reserve units has been a contentious topic, and one that in the past, has not been supported by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld or the White House.

In April, the Pentagon tweaked its system so that, when mobilized for more than 30 days, National Guard and Reserve forces and their families are eligible for coverage under Tricare, the military’s health insurance.

The benefits extend for 90 days after the unit’s demobilization, and extend up to 120 days for those with more than six years of service.

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