Skip to main content

VA and TRICARE are major health systems in which PTs and PTAs play a major role.

Currently serving and former members of the U.S. armed services are offered health care through an extensive system in which PTs and PTAs play a major role. That's why it's important to understand the two main providers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the Veterans Health Administration, which covers only veterans—those who once served in the military and no longer are in active duty or who are retired veterans who also meet certain eligibility and health criteria.

TRICARE is a civilian network administered by the U.S. Department of Defense that provides health care benefits to active-duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families when services cannot be provided at a military treatment facility. When service members leave active duty, they're eligible for either VA or TRICARE coverage, depending on how they separated from military duty. TRICARE covers physical therapy when furnished by a PT, or PTA performing under the supervision of a TRICARE-authorized PT. 

PTAs were recognized as TRICARE-authorized providers as of April 16, 2020. See TRICARE's website for a description of covered services and providers.

Recommended Content

TRICARE to Begin Pilot That Waives Cost-Sharing for Physical Therapy for LBP

Jun 30, 2020 / News

TRICARE Guidelines for Payment

Apr 1, 2020 / Article

APTA Advisory: TRICARE Reimbursement for TENS Treatment for LBP Stops on June 1

May 29, 2020 / News

Veterans Community Care Programs

Aug 16, 2019 / Article

Additional Veterans Affairs and TRICARE Content

No Vacation from Advocacy: Fee Schedule, Home Health, and Two Wins

Jul 22, 2022 / Podcast

APTA staff experts provide insight on what's happening, and what's to come.

VA Increases Pay Levels for PTAs

Feb 3, 2021 / News

APTA pressed for updated descriptions of PTA qualifications and skills. The change led to a raise in pay ranges.

VA Confirms Providers' Ability To Practice Anywhere in the US

Nov 10, 2020 / Review

The rule is intended to ensure consistent care and ease VA providers' fears about retribution from state licensing boards.

TRICARE Adds Final Details on Waivers to Cost-Sharing for LBP Physical Therapy

Oct 28, 2020 / News

The updated information includes a list of accepted ICD-10 codes. APTA has resources to help you optimize participation.

TRICARE: What You Need to Know

Oct 1, 2020 / Column

Important information for PTs and PTAs serving service members, veterans, and their families.

The TRICARE LBP Demonstration Project: APTA's Guide to Seizing the Opportunity

Sep 28, 2020 / Open Access

TRICARE is waiving cost-sharing for PT visits for patients with LBP. Let's show them why that's a good idea.

New TRICARE Rule Allows for Telephone-Delivered Services, Drops Copays

May 11, 2020 / Review

An interim rule that allows for the use of audio-only remote services for office visit.

APTA Advisory: TRICARE Manual Updated to Recognize PTAs as Authorized Providers

Apr 22, 2020 / News

TRICARE has officially revised its policy manual to recognize PTAs as authorized providers.

TRICARE Balks at Covering TENS and Dry Needling

Mar 6, 2020 / News

TRICARE calls TENS "no more effective than placebo" and labels dry needling for LBP "unproven."

Your Questions Answered

Dec 1, 2019 / Column

Use the information and resources here to get the details you need on regulatory compliance and related legal issues.