The Department of Defense (DoD) announced July 21 the next generation of TRICARE Managed Care Support Contracts. The new contracts, which go into effect nine months after the award, establish two TRICARE regions in the United States -- East and West -- instead of the current three. The East Region contract goes to Humana Government Business, Inc., Louisville, Kentucky, and in the West Region the new Managed Care contractor is Health Net Federal Services LLC, Rancho Cordova, California. These contracts are replacing current arrangements under which health care is provided to eligible members of the uniformed services, their families, retirees and their families."I am pleased that our new TRICARE contracts are focused on enhancing the experience of care for our service members, retirees and their families," said Karen S. Guice, M.D., acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.The new contracts will continue to provide for the delivery of health care, customer service, claims processing and other administrative services to the estimated 9.4 million TRICARE beneficiaries. The new contracts do not change the TRICARE benefit and offer all the same TRICARE options."TRICARE is moving into a new era, making use of the lessons learned in the first three contract phases," said Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, Director of the Defense Health Agency. "Defense Department leadership and the incumbent managed care support contractors are dedicated to managing a smooth transition to the new managed care support contractors, with minimum disruption to our beneficiaries."The new contracts include a requirement to improve integration between military hospitals and the civilian components of TRICARE. They also call for an upgraded electronic referral process to reduce wait times for beneficiaries who need specialty care.After the nine-month transition period from the current contracts to the new ones, military hospitals and clinics will have real-time access to medical management data. This increased ability to share data will improve both patient care coordination and access to care. And through improved visibility of data, the Military Health System will be able to standardize care between civilian and military facilities, which promises both better care and greater patient safety.The Defense Health Agency will keep TRICARE beneficiaries informed of coming changes during the transition period. Those interested in the progress should bookmark the web page on the TRICARE Website and sign up for regular bulletins through our e-alert system.