“How can we help?”
It’s a common question in times of uncertainty. It’s even more common among MOAA members — officers with a desire to help, to serve, to contribute, whether they are in or out of uniform, and spouses who’ve always stepped up when the need arises.
But now, as we encourage our medical responders, and support our essential workers as best we can, we’ve been asked to stay home. It would seem we’ve been sidelined. But that’s not the case at all.
While MOAA’s annual Storming the Hill event set for March was cleared from the calendar by the COVID-19 crisis, MOAA’s staff has assembled a Virtual Storm on a critical issue that’s slipped out of the headlines during this temporary normal — an urgent need to readdress congressionally mandated reforms to the Military Health System (MHS).
You may be familiar with some of the news surrounding these reform efforts. The plan to cut 18,000 military medical billets was announced more than a year ago, and MOAA successfully lobbied Congress last year to direct a pause so DoD could conduct a detailed analysis on the impact these cuts would have on readiness and beneficiaries. Earlier this year, not related to those cuts, DoD released plans to reduce or eliminate 48 military treatment facilities (MTFs), potentially affecting about 200,000 beneficiaries. All of this before the COVID-19 outbreak.
We don’t believe this current pandemic should be the sole architect of our future medical capability, fully staffed and resourced for a repeat crisis that may or may not happen for 100 years. We do, however, believe we should capitalize on solutions and lessons learned through these current challenges and come out on the other side with an improved interoperability of our national health care system, of which DoD is one component.
At present, DoD has put MHS reforms on hold due to the crisis and that’s appropriate given the increased demand for health care providers from DoD and others like the VA, USPHS, and HHS. However, when the demand levels off and we come out of this pandemic, DoD is charged with submitting their analysis as noted above, and continuing MHS reform per the earlier congressional mandate.
And that’s the crux of the problem.
MOAA needs your help in telling Congress the MHS reform agenda they approved in the FY2017 NDAA needs more than a pause — it needs to be stopped and reevaluated through a comprehensive review of solutions and lessons learned this year. This assessment must include the whole of government along with the national health care system focusing on what worked well during the crisis and what needs to be improved.
The end result must be a health care system that 1) is capable of supporting current requirements, and 2) is a scalable and coordinated capability able to leverage all of our national talents and resources to surge when conditions warrant.
So, how can you help?
- Join MOAA’s virtual storm by visiting www.moaa.org/moaastorms for details on contacting your legislators.
- If you’re not part of one of MOAA’s local chapters, find one and help others in your area advocate for your community.
- Share MOAA’s message on social media by reaching out to your legislators, local media members, and others, and using the hashtag #MOAAStorms to spread the word.
- Keep yourself safe by following all health guidance, and keep up with the latest COVID-19 news, updates, and resources at www.moaa.org/coronavirus.
Even apart, we are all in this together. And even from our homes, we will Never Stop Serving.