Message from Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs

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(I was at the MHS Senior Leader Symposium last week, so I can answer any questions people have in the comments section of this post.)

MHS Team:

With six months to go until October 1, 2018-our long-anticipated target of
NDAA 2017 Section 702 implementation-I wanted to share with you a few key
updates and reflections as we move towards this significant transition for
the Military Health System.

First, thank you to the more than 100 leaders that convened last week from
across the DHA, Services, and MTFs for the MHS Senior Leader Symposium
focused on developing performance plans to operationalize, target, and
tailor our efforts throughout the MHS transition process. Thank you for
sharing your perspectives, expertise, and insights as we work together to
build out our plans for October 1 and beyond.  Your feedback will help
inform our efforts as we move forward to implement the Department’s
construct to carry out the reforms required by NDAA FY17 Section 702.

I emphasized to that group that MHS leadership remains laser-focused on
achieving an even more integrated, higher-performing MHS that meets the
intent laid out in the NDAA and continues years of Department progress in
strengthening the MHS’s ability to deliver high-quality care and support our
readiness mission. This requires a collective effort to reduce stovepipes
and enhance standardization across the MHS and to increase our effectiveness
by eliminating unnecessary duplication. The more we can reduce the costs of
running the system, the more we can invest to improve readiness and patient

We’ve made great strides these past few months in operationalizing the MHS
transition, but much work remains. As we move forward, I’d like to reaffirm
three key takeaways from this past week to the MHS team.

First, the MHS transition process and change we’ve set out to do are hard.
But this change is also necessary. Since my first day at the Department of
Defense, I have been deeply impressed by the culture of adaptability and
resilience-the United States military lives, breaths, and succeeds by its
ability to accept change, take on a challenge, and accomplish results. While
the MHS embarks on some of the most sweeping changes in 30 years, I am
confident that you will adapt, lead, and successfully execute the next
chapter in our story.

Second, I understand how critical communications will be these next six
months, and I am committed to sharing updates on decisions and plans
regarding the MHS transition as they become available. Communications will
be key to ensuring every level of the MHS understands what changes are
taking place, how they impact the way we do business, and enable feedback
loops to confirm continuity of high-quality care to our patients. My ask to
you is to communicate these messages to your audiences, be they providers,
leaders on installations, or patients.

And third, now through October 1 and beyond, I’d like us all to uphold a few
key priorities that will guide our collective approach. We must never lose
sight of our core mission, which is to support the warfighter and care for
the patient. We must leverage the 702 transition to build and strengthen a
truly integrated and even more effective health care system. And lastly, we
must commit to integration and coordination of our readiness and health care
delivery missions.

Thank you for making the MHS a leader in health care and for working every
day to keep improving what we do and how we do it. And thank you for your
patience and perseverance in the months ahead to make this transition
successful. I look forward to working with this talented MHS team to make
these changes real and in doing so, improving the support and health care to
our 9.4 million Service members, retirees, and families who rely on your
efforts every single day.

Tom McCaffery
Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs

4 thoughts on “Message from Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs

    Mike said:
    March 25, 2018 at 04:46

    Yet not one surgeon general bothered to come.


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      March 25, 2018 at 06:50

      True. To be fair, it was unclear up until 2 weeks prior whether or not the meeting was actually going to happen. And they are pretty busy.


    AJPA said:
    March 25, 2018 at 11:56

    So, to summarize: “things are changing…. we’ll keep you posted”?
    If you’re able to, can you fill us in on which specific changes will be happening first and where? I’ve read the NDAA and summaries several times but no one in my leadership or elsewhere has been able to explain what the actual changes will be and if and how they will affect MTFs in the near future.


      Joel Schofer, MD, MBA, CPE responded:
      March 25, 2018 at 12:47

      The first change is at USNH Jacksonville. Unless something changes, as of 1 OCT 2018 DHA will take over running the hospital. Each MTF is getting split into two parts, a readiness component run by the Navy and a MTF component run by the DHA. The plan after Jacksonville is for more MTFs (mostly those in the easter half of CONUS) to do the same in 1 OCT 2019, with the rest gradually coming on-line as the years progress.

      I think this all could change, but that is the current plan.


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