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DoD Health Budget Reflects Ongoing Shift to TRICARE

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 1997 – The fiscal 1998 Defense health program budget request reflects the ongoing shift of funds from CHAMPUS to TRICARE.

At $10.2 billion, the budget represents a 9 percent increase over the $9.4 billion fiscal 1997 total.

As in the last budget, CHAMPUS takes the biggest hit, giving up $900 million. Officials said there's really no impact on the overall budget, however, because the same amount will fund support contracts let under TRICARE, DoD's managed health care program.

Standard CHAMPUS benefits requirements decrease as the managed care contracts are let, officials said. TRICARE continues to help DoD contain health care costs, they added, through better management of health facilities.

The new budget allots $4.4 billion for patient care and support, $1 billion for base operations and $471 million for care in non-DoD facilities. It includes $274 million for procurement of medical equipment and $156 million for clinic construction and life safety upgrades. However, it contains no funding for new hospital construction and defers funding for Portsmouth (Va.) Naval Hospital construction until fiscal 1999.

The fiscal 1998 budget also provides $3.6 billion for CHAMPUS, $250 million for education and training and $51 million for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, DoD's medical school in Bethesda, Md.

A breakout of CHAMPUS funds includes $2.8 billion for managed care support contracts, $735 million for CHAMPUS benefits and $54.5 million for the TRICARE Support Office (formerly CHAMPUS) in Aurora, Colo.

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