DoD Plan Calls For Changes to MHS Structure

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WASHINGTON, DC—A plan put forward to reorganize the MHS that would feature a Defense Health Agency will allow the services to operate more jointly, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson, MD, told a House subcommittee this week.

“It is the department’s position that this is the responsible, iterative way forward that will produce the maximum efficiencies with the least disruption,” Woodson told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

A DoD task force report released this month recommended a new structure for the military health system. Based on the report’s recommendations and other considerations, DoD is recommending a Defense Health Agency in favor over other more drastic options considered such as a Unified Medical Command.

The DHA would absorb the functions of the TRICARE Management Activity. In addition, “the DHA would assume responsibility for shared services, functions, and activities in the MHS, including but not limited to the TRICARE Health Plan, pharmacy programs, medical education and training, medical research and development, health information technology, facility planning, public health, medical logistics, acquisition, budget and resource management, and other common business and clinical processes,” according to an enclosure included with the Task Force report.

Additionally, DoD is recommending appointing market managers for multi-service medical markets to coordinate care in multi-service medical markets.

As part of its recommendations, DoD is also calling for transferring the responsibility for running military treatment facilities within the National Capital Region including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital to a new directorate within the Defense Health Agency that will succeed the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region Medical, which is currently in place.

Before DoD can move forward in implementing the reforms, both GAO and Congress must review the report.

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