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Court ruling: TRICARE not like Medicare
The defendant hospital in OFCCP v. Florida Hospital of Orlando, DOL OALJ, No. 2009-OFC-00002, argued that rather than being a contract with the federal government, TRICARE was merely another form of "federal financial assistance," just like Medicare.
If Medicare doesn't trigger affirmative action obligations, the hospital said, why should TRICARE?
The court didn't buy it.
"The Plaintiff does not disagree with the Defendant that OFCCP lacks jurisdiction over businesses if their only relationship with the federal government is as a recipient of federal financial assistance, be it from Medicare or other federal programs," Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Tureck, JD, wrote in his ruling. "Thus, if Defendant's only receipt of federal funds was through Medicare or other federal financial assistance programs, Plaintiff does not contend that the statutes would be applicable to the Defendant. However, this case does not concern a program of federal financial assistance."
Tureck went on to say that the hospital's "argument that TRICARE and Medicare are 'essentially indistinguishable' is simply wrong. As OFCCP contends, Medicare is an insurance program. Medicare does not provide medical services to its beneficiaries it simply pays for such services. On the other hand: TRICARE is the uniformed services health care program for active duty service members and their families. TRICARE's primary objectives are to optimize the delivery of health care services in the direct care system for all Military Health System (MHS) beneficiaries and attain the highest level of patient satisfaction through the delivery of world-class health care benefits.
"That Medicare may be considered federal financial assistance has no relevance to TRICARE. They are totally different programs."
For the full ruling by the court, go to http://www.polsinelli.com/publications/labor/resources/Florida_Hospital_of_Orlando.pdf.