Military Connection: Hagel Orders Review of Health Care System: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregoryveteran1

On May 27, 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to execute a comprehensive 90-day review of the U.S. military’s health care system.  The review will put emphasis on the accessibility of health care, and also on the quality and safety of treatment given to service members and their immediate family members.  This review was brought on by an investigation of secret waiting lists and treatment delays at many of the Veteran Affairs’ facilities located throughout the nation.

Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, will head the review and commencement will start at once, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.  Dr. Woodson holds the rank of Brigadier General, United States Army, Reserve and has supported several Army Medical Department missions including Advanced Trauma Life Support Training, military-civilian medical programs in Central America, and air medical evacuation missions in Central America.

Following the 90-day review, Hagel will be presented with the recommendations to strengthen any of the areas that fall short of meeting the nationally-defined or Pentagon-directed requirements, Kirby said.

Hagel’s decision puts emphasis on the military healthcare system that aids more than 9.6 million beneficiaries, comprised of all armed forces active-duty members, in addition to their family members and all military retired persons. The review will analyze military facilities and the civilian providers through which the Pentagon purchases.

The review comes at a time when President Obama’s administration and U.S. lawmakers are conducting separate queries into the quality of medical care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The House Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a hearing in which VA officials will testify as to the setbacks in the agency’s delivery of health care.

Hagel’s order was reported May 26, 2014, after the Army relieved the commander of the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The dismissal came after the reported deaths of two patients in the VA healthcare system.