The new $65.1 billion Tricare contract for the West Region, scheduled to start in 2024, is now back to defense officials for corrective action.

Information was not immediately available about whether this will affect the timeline for the newest iteration of Tricare contracts, or whether it will affect the new contract for the East Region, too. Combined, those two new contracts could potentially be valued at $136 billion over nine years.

There are about 9.4 million beneficiaries in Tricare, which is the health care program for service members, retirees and their families.

The Tricare contract for the West Region, awarded in December to TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp., in Phoenix, has a potential estimated value of more than $65.1 billion over nine years. The current contractor for the West Region, Health Net Federal Services LLC, which lost its bid to continue administering Tricare in that region, filed a protest on Jan. 17 with the Government Accountability Office.

On Feb. 9, the GAO dismissed the Health Net protest “because the Department of Defense elected to take corrective action to address concerns in the procurement,” said Kenneth Patton, GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law.

In a statement provided to Military Times, officials at Health Net Federal Services said they received “positive news that the Department of Defense will reevaluate its previous award decision and will make a new award decision for the Tricare West Region T-5 contract.

“HNFS supports the DoD’s decision to take this corrective action.”

TriWest officials were unavailable for comment. TriWest previously held the Tricare West contract with the Defense Department for 17 years, from 1996 through 2013.

Meanwhile, the current Tricare contracts remain in place until 2024, when the new contracts are scheduled to take effect. The new contracts, dubbed T-5 contracts, “do not change the Tricare benefit and offer all the same Tricare options,” Defense Health Agency officials said in their December announcement.

Humana Government Business Inc., of Louisville, Kentucky was awarded the Tricare contract for the East Region, estimated at a potential $70.8 billion over the nine years of transition and option periods.

Humana is the current contractor for the East Region. The new contract will cover 24 states plus Washington, D.C., while the contractor for the West Region will manage Tricare for 26 states. Six states that are currently in the East Region will transfer to the West Region — Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. This shift provides a more equitable balance of beneficiaries, officials said.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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