Defense Bill Would Protect Hundreds of Military Medical, Dental Offices

Defense Bill Would Protect Hundreds of Military Medical, Dental Offices

(Jason Bortz/Defense Department) 

May 29, 2018 

The FY 2017 defense bill included some extensive structural changes to the military health system. More than 400 Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) nationwide will soon be under the administrative authority of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) because of the FY 2017 bill. 

The change was spurred by an attempt to streamline health care administration across DoD. Lawmakers saw the old health systems, managed by each services' surgeons general, as redundant and a hindrance to developing an efficient health care delivery system.

While MOAA has long supported the creation of a unified medical command, there is cause for concern. Increasing operations for the still-young agency poses risks. To mitigate and manage risks, it's important to ramp up slowly. Early negotiations in the FY 2019 NDAA show that Congress shares those concerns, as the current legislative language suggests a two-year phase in of the transfers. This will allow the health agency to steadily ramp up operations and mitigate risks as they arise.

Further, in what MOAA believes is an effort to protect beneficiaries who use MTFs for continuity of care, the legislation would explicitly prohibit the secretary of defense from:

  • Closing any MTFs
  • Limiting health services provided by an MTF
  • Taking action to begin closure or service limitation until the transition to DHA is complete

Though such prohibitions are limited to the two-year transition and go against the current administration's stated preference, MOAA is pleased to see some protections in place for beneficiaries.

This language is something MOAA will be keeping an eye on throughout the ongoing defense bill debates. The most important factor in this equation is the beneficiary, who through years of service and sacrifice, paid in advance for access to quality care.

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