Should TRICARE providers be required to implement affirmative action? That’s the issue that the United States Department of Labor raised when it issued Directive 2014-01 on March 7, 2014. Here’s a link to that directive: DOL Directive 2014-01. TRICARE is a federal healthcare program that provides benefits to American veterans. The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) is responsible for enforcement of the affirmative action obligations imposed upon federal contractors. Directive 2014-01 effectively imposed a five-year moratorium on requiring TRICARE subcontractors to comply with those obligations. On May 18, 2018, OFCCP extended that moratorium to May 7, 2021.
Federal laws and regulations require federal contractors and subcontractors to take affirmative steps to ensure equal employment opportunity in their employment processes. When it issued Directive 2014-01, the DOL recognized a difference of opinion as to who is a covered subcontractor under the law and what obligations the TRICARE subcontractor community has under the law. Because of that difference of opinion, DOL decided that it would impose the moratorium on enforcement.
The moratorium, however, was set to expire in 2019. OFCCP’s May 18, 2018 press release extended the moratorium. Here’s a link to the press release: May 18, 2018 Press Release. OFCCP provided the following rationale for extending the affirmative action moratorium: “Active-duty and retired service members, and their families, too often have difficulty accessing health care. There is evidence suggesting that continued uncertainty regarding the extent to which OFCCP requirements apply to TRICARE providers exacerbates these challenges. With the approaching expiration of the moratorium adding additional uncertainty, this extension will provide OFCCP time to receive feedback from stakeholders, relieve uncertainty, and give OFCCP an opportunity to evaluate and address legislation that may be enacted on this issue.”