News   Reform

Military Health System Changes Focus on Readiness

Feb. 19, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The Military Health System is implementing significant reforms aimed at building a more integrated and effective system of readiness and health, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs said.

Thomas McCaffery hosted a Pentagon media roundtable to announce the findings contained in a Defense Department report delivered to Congress today that spells out the department's restructuring or realigning of select military hospitals and clinics. 

Lab technician prepares to  draw blood from patient.
Blood Draw
A hospital worker prepares to draw blood at Naval Branch Health Clinic Jacksonville’s laboratory in Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 9, 2019.
Photo By: Jacob Sippel, Navy
VIRIN: 191209-N-AW702-002C

All military treatment facilities were reviewed, with an eye to ensuring that military members are ready to train and deploy, he said. Also, the analysis included reviews ensuring medical personnel are acquiring and maintaining the clinical skills and experiences that prepare them for deployment and support of combat operations around the world.

The analysis calls for changes to the scope of operations at 50 hospitals and clinics in the United States, with the majority of changes being to outpatient clinics currently open to all beneficiaries that will be modified to be available only to active duty service members, he said.

Roughly 200,000 beneficiaries who receive primary care at the affected military treatment facilities will be moved over the next two to three years into the TRICARE civilian provider network, he said.

Pharmacist checks prescription
Prescription Check
A 9th Medical Group pharmacy element chief checks out a birth control prescription at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Oct. 10, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor White
VIRIN: 191010-F-WA182-002C
Optometrist looks into hand-held lens.
Eye Exam
Dr. Courtney Humphrey, an optometrist with the 633rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, holds a lens used to look into a patient’s eye at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Jan. 27, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe
VIRIN: 200124-F-PE983-1010C

TRICARE civilian provider networks require a modest co-pay.

There are a total of 9.5 million Military Health System beneficiaries, he said, including more than 2 million active duty service members, retirees and family members.

Before transitioning any beneficiaries, the department will connect them with health care providers in the TRICARE network and assist them with the enrollment process, McCaffery said.

Hospital worker hands paperwork to patient.
Paper Work
A medical clerk at Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s Internal Medicine Clinic in Florida hands check-in information to a patient.
Photo By: Jacob Sippel, Navy
VIRIN: 191003-N-AW702-002C

Many military treatment facilities will remain unchanged if the local civilian health care market cannot offer beneficiaries appropriate access to health care, he added.

The Military Health System remains committed to ensuring access to quality health care for every beneficiary it serves, be it active duty, retirees and their families, McCaffery said.