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Beginning on Oct. 1, the Defense Department will reduce the number of Tricare Prime service areas in the United States, announced the Tricare Management Activity. The change will affect some 171,000 military retirees and their dependents whose service areas are more than 40 miles from existing military clinics or hospitals, states an Aug. 7 TMA release. The reduction "doesn't mean [Tricare beneficiaries are] losing their Tricare benefit," said Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, who also oversees TMA. Many beneficiaries may be able to continue with their current provider using the Tricare Standard benefit, he said. "I urge all impacted beneficiaries to carefully consider their health care options," said Woodson. DOD officials decided in 2007 to make these reductions to help control the costs of health care for some 9.6 million beneficiaries, states the release. DOD decided to wait to make these changes until the new contracts were in place and beneficiaries had time to adjust, states the release.