DoD plan reshapes military health structure

Monday - 3/5/2012, 8:16am EST

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has submitted a plan to create a new organization called the Defense Health Agency, which would oversee TRICARE. The plan was required by the 2012 Defense Authorization Bill and would not affect any TRICARE benefits.

The new agency would also be responsible for running military treatment facilities within the National Capital Region (NCR), including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. This function is currently held by the Joint Task Force - National Capital Region, which would be phased out under the new plan.

In addition, DHA would also be responsible for medical education and training programs, health information technology, facility planning, medical logistics, acquisition, public health, pharmacy programs, budget and resource management, and other common clinical and business processes.

The plan also calls for the appointment of market managers throughout the country that would have the authority to reorganize medical delivery in their zones. The aim of this objective is to provide better control of costs within each of the multi-service markets.

According to DoD, the plan is seen as the appropriate next step in establishing structure and improving the governance of the Military Health System (MHS) while reining in health care costs. DoD said it would achieve its new objectives without having to make large-scale alterations to the MHS, thereby avoiding significant reorganization.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness will assign a team to put together the implementation plan.

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.

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