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Tricare Is Exempt: Along with the health care reform legislation the House approved over the weekend, lawmakers voted 403 to zero on legislation (HR 4887) introduced by Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) to amend the Internal Revenue Code to term the Defense Department's Tricare military health program "minimal essential coverage." Skelton noted in floor remarks Saturday that the reform legislation currently under review would not call for Tricare beneficiaries to purchase additional coverage. He emphasized that his bill would simply "reassure" Tricare beneficiaries "they will not be negatively affected." Defense Secretary Bob Gates issued a statement Monday, confirming that the Skelton bill "clarified" the matter, saying, "The President and I are committed to seeing that our troops, retirees, and their families will continue to receive the best quality health care."