DHA’s updated plan to resize military health care system is similar to pre-pandemic strategy

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The Defense Health Agency’s current plan is to “properly size” the military health system by moving around 200,000 TRICARE beneficiaries to private medical networks and shutting down less than 7% of the ministry’s military treatment facilities. of the defense.

The strategy comes after DHA was forced to rethink its way forward after the COVID-19 pandemic showed stress in some private health care networks and forced some clinics to close. Despite these variables, DHA confirms for the first time that the readjusted plan is currently still similar to pre-pandemic expectations.

“We have completed this report and submitted the draft report to Congress through the Secretary of Defense,” Dr. Brian Lein, deputy director of health care administration for DHA told Federal News Network. “Congress has asked several questions about the questions we are answering, and therefore no decision has been made on the basis of this report, either in the office of the Secretary of Defense or in Congress. giving us the power to act in any way. We are constantly researching and ensuring that none of the assumptions or facts at that time have changed. “

Congress asked the DoD to realign its military health care system five years ago. The plan, at most, envisioned displacing up to 1.9 million people from the military health care system. It is also linked to a DoD plan to cut thousands of medical bills.

DHA takes into account a new DHA-funded study that said patients leaving military hospitals will experience worse hospital care.

“The results of this study show that ongoing healthcare reforms stemming from an organizational overhaul of the military healthcare system in 2016 could lead to significant harm to patients,” the study’s authors wrote in the report. obtained by Federal News Network. “The available evidence suggests that limiting access to MTFs may decrease the quality of care for active duty members, their families and military retirees. Repeated systemic and hospital quality assessments by the U.S. government and the American College of Surgeons indicate comparable performance between the military health care system and some of the nation’s top health care systems.

Lein said the study is a compliment to the skills nested in the military health care system.

“I think if we look at both inpatient and outpatient care, and we look at a much smaller percentage [of people moving away from military care], that perhaps some of the conclusions of the document may be less valid than what has been reported, ”he said. “That being said, we engage our managed care support contractors on a monthly basis on quality and safety measures, from the managed care that is provided in our network. Over the past year, we’ve had several formal meetings, not only with the two major managed care support contractors, but also with the US Family Health Plan and some of our other managed care teams. We asked them to be part of a consortium of quality across the military health system where we have all agreed to various measures that we will be looking at and improving as a military health system.

The study aimed to move 10%, 20% and 50% of the TRICARE population to private care.

Lein said the areas where DHA is considering downsizing are places where there are strong medical communities outside of the military system.

Congress sold the scale plan as the most drastic overhaul of the system in a generation that would improve readiness, health and costs.

The DoD has had concerns about the plan in the past, however.

A DoD report sent to Congress in February 2020 laid out some issues that downsizing could create, including making some bases less desirable, forcing troops to retire from work to escort family members to off-base health services, and possible problems in finding standardized care for women.

The DoD described mitigation strategies in the report, such as providing alternative transportation strategies for family members.

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