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Military Medical Budget Prioritizes Readiness, Reform

March 5, 2020 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

The military medical budget for fiscal year 2021 prioritizes the medical readiness of the military force in addition to their readiness of the medical force, while sustaining beneficiaries' access to quality healthcare, the assistant secretary for defense for health affairs told Congress today.

Thomas McCaffrey, speaking to the House Appropriations Committee, outlined the proposed budget request of $33.1 billion for the defense health program. 

Two airmen participate in a medical exercise.
Medical Training
Airmen from the 14th Medical Group train with a medical training mannequin during the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course in the Walker Center Feb. 23, 2020, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. TCCC has become the standard of medical training proficiency for military personnel to prepare them for potential combat situations in an ongoing effort to heighten medical readiness.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen
VIRIN: 200223-F-HX125-4016

"This proposed budget reflects our continued implementation of a number of comprehensive reforms to our health system as directed by Congress and [Defense Department] leadership," McCaffrey said. 

The assistant secretary also outlined additional significant reforms:

  • Consolidating administration and management of DOD's military hospitals and clinics under the Defense Health Agency;
  • Right-sizing the military medical infrastructure to focus on readiness; and
  • Optimizing the size and composition of the military medical force to best meet its readiness mission. 

To implement the reforms, DOD is guided by two principles, he said. 

"First, our military medical hospitals and clinics are, first and foremost, military facilities as operations need to be focused on meeting military requirements," McCaffrey said. "That means that our MTFs serve as the primary platform in which we ensure that service members are medically ready to train and deploy. It also means that our MTFs are effectively utilized as training platforms that enable our military medical personnel to acquire and maintain the clinical skills that enable them to deploy in support of combat operations."

Soldiers take part in a mass-casualty exercise in Jordan.
Cover and Transport
U.S. Army combat lifesavers work to cover and transport a moulaged mannequin, center, with 655 Regional Support Group, 316 Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), 377 Theater Sustainment Command, during a massive casualty exercise at Joint Training Center-Jordan, Jan. 10, 2020.
Photo By: Army Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem
VIRIN: 200110-A-PT698-840

Second, as a reform to the Military Health System, "we continue to make good on our commitment to provide our beneficiaries access to quality health care," he noted. 

While the military medical community implements changes to the health system, it also continues to pursue its other initiatives that have contributed to the achievement of the highest battlefield survival rates in history, while providing world-class health care to its millions of beneficiaries, McCaffrey said. 

Medical personnel train using a mannequin.
Medical Demo
Vietnam Senior Colonel Nguyen Nhu Lam, right, deputy director, Vietnam Institute of Burn, receives a demonstration of a simulation mannequin at Naval Medical Center San Diego during a tour of NMCSD’s simulation center Jan. 17, 2020. NMCSD and Vietnam Military Medical University members participated in an exchange of knowledge followed by a tour of NMCSD’s bioskills and simulation training center. NMCSD's mission is to prepare service members to deploy in support of operational forces, deliver high-quality healthcare services, and shape the future of military medicine through education, training and research.
Photo By: Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Cameron Pinske
VIRIN: 200217-N-MD713-1080C

"That includes our continued deployment of the electronic health record and our ongoing operation of our cutting-edge research and development programs," the assistant secretary said, "which Congress and this committee have long championed. The work in that area is playing a significant role in the whole government effort on the [Coronavirus] issue."