Last June, Deputy Secretary of Defense Aston B. Carter established an internal task force to review the governance of the Military Health System (MHS) and to suggest changes if needed. The Deputy Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Military Department Secretaries and Service Chiefs, and other senior officials at DOD reviewed the work of the task force and examined the suggested changes for the existing governance of MHS.
On March 2, 2012, the Deputy Secretary submitted the report to Congress describing how DOD plans to integrate health operations within the Military Health System (MHS). The report was required by Section 716 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012.
The report outlines three proposed reforms affecting the governance structure of the MHS with the goal to make the health system more effective and produce savings. TRICARE benefits and access to care will not be affected by these changes.
According to the report, the first reform would establish a Defense Health Agency (DHA) to absorb the functions of the TRICARE Management Activity. In addition, the DHA would assume responsibility for shared services, functions, and activities in the MHS. This would include but be 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, plus other common business and clinical processes.
The second reform would be to appoint market managers for multi-service medical markets with authority to create and sustain a cost-effective, coordinated, and high-quality healthcare system in multi-service medical markets.
Specifically, the market managers would have the authority to allocate the budget for the market, direct the adoption of common clinical and business functions for the market, and direct the workload and workforce between or among the medical treatment facilities in the market.
The third reform would be to transfer the responsibility for running military treatment facilities within the National Capital Region such as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital to a subordinate organization within the Defense Health Agency to succeed the Joint Task Force of the National Capital Region Medical (JTF-CapMed).
To view the report, go to www.health.mil/2012_MHS_Governance_Report.aspx.