Military medical transformation, turning hospitals and clinics over to the Defense Health Agency, continues while COVID-19-related missions continue to be a major effort, the Army surgeon general told Congress.
The command team for Army Medical Command will speak April 12 at a webinar hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army.
Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Army surgeon general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond Hough, senior enlisted leader for Medical Command, will provide updates on COVID-19 vaccinations, talk about soldiers’ contributions to the fight against the disease, and discuss medical readiness.
When soldiers join the Army, they are bombarded with information about what it means to be a soldier.
The Pentagon continues to look for ways to provide service members and their families with access to counseling and other resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
“Our military family resources are especially critical during the pandemic,” Kim Joiner, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military, community and family policy, said recently during a virtual media roundtable. “To better serve our service members and their families during this challenging time, [we] significantly enhanced our support efforts in every aspect of our portfolio.”
There is a lot of room for improvement in military medical treatment facilities and programs, the DoD inspector general says in a report tied to the transition of hospitals and clinics away from the services and into the Defense Health Agency.
That transition is already underway, but the effort has stalled because of concerns in the services and Congress about timing.
The apparent rejection by Congress of a joint plea from the services to stop or at least delay a reorganization of military medical assets is a “deep disappointment” for the Army and for beneficiaries, said retired Gen. Carter Ham, president and CEO of the Association of the U.S. Army.
The Army, Navy and Air Force are fighting to roll back an ongoing military health care transformation and restore service control over hospitals and clinics.
The service secretaries and service chiefs have asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper to suspend any new efforts to transfer medical facilities, personnel and resources to the Defense Health Agency and undo some of the transfers already made, including giving control of DoD’s flagship hospital, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, back to the Army.
Women are the fastest-growing subpopulation of veterans, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Association of the U.S. Army has joined in an effort asking Congress to immediately waive Tricare copayments for mail-order prescriptions.
In a joint letter to Congress, AUSA and other military and veterans’ groups say pharmacies at military treatment facilities are “high-traffic areas” that should be avoided during the global coronavirus pandemic, but the Tricare fee structure discourages beneficiaries from going elsewhere for their prescriptions.
The Army wants to delay further transfer of its major military hospitals to the Defense Health Agency in a move intended to temporarily halt a global merger.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said he is not opposed to the health care reform effort aimed at increasing efficiencies and standardizing practices across the Defense Department. What does worry him is the timing.