Congress and Military Healthcare Reform

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Recently there have been some high level discussions in the Senate Armed Services Committee, including our top Navy admirals, about reforming the Military Health System (MHS).

Here is a transcript of the congressional testimony of Dr. Jonathan Woodson, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, and VADM Raquel Bono, Director, Defense Health Agency.  In addition, here is an article that summarizes their testimony.  The Navy Surgeon General, VADM C. Forrest Faison III, also provided testimony that can be read here. My summary of important points includes:

  • The overarching strategy for the MHS is what they call the “Quadruple Aim.” This is to ensure readiness, improve health, improve healthcare, and lower cost.
  • There is talk of military providers obtain admitting privileges at nearby civilian institutions. We could then provide a wider range of care for military beneficiaries and improve our clinical skills maintenance.  In addition, here is an article that discusses allowing civilian trauma cases at more military hospitals.
  • The MHS will provide a robust clinical experience to preserve skills and competencies by moving more workload in-house, growing our patient enrollment, rebalancing staff and investing in our graduate training programs.
  • The MHS is extending hours to evenings and weekends in a number of military treatment facilities (MTFs).
  • The MHS is encouraging the use of telehealth and smart phone applications.
  • The Department of Defense (DoD) is implementing a pilot program that allows patients to access urgent care centers without requiring a preauthorization.
  • DoD with reduce TRICARE regions from three to two, eliminating unnecessary administrative overhead for both the government and contractors.
  • 2016 is the first phase of deployment of the new Electronic Health Record in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The MHS will encourage beneficiaries to use MTFs by eliminating administrative burdens that impair access to care.

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