WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSFA) - Changes could be coming to 50 military hospitals and clinics around the country, including two in Alabama. The Department of Defense announced restructuring plans Wednesday in a report submitted to Congress, which will have to give final approval.
The changes would mean active-duty family members, retirees and their families who currently get care at affected facilities will have to transition to TRICARE’s civilian provider network.
Thirty-seven outpatient clinics now open to all beneficiaries will eventually see primarily only active-duty personnel under the plan. That’s the case for Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery and Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
Maxwell would transition the 87th Medical Ground-McGuire outpatient facility to an Active Duty only and Occupational Health clinic, or AD/OH, and Redstone would do the same for the Army Health Clinic Fox-Redstone outpatient facility. Pharmacies would remain open at both locations for all beneficiaries. The DoD says services to installation civilian employees related to their jobs would continue at many of the clinics.
DoD says the proposed changes are part of an effort to better support wartime readiness and to improve clinical training for medical forces who may need to be deployed in the future.
“Military readiness includes making sure MTFs (medical treatment facilities) are operated to ensure service members are medically ready to train and deploy,” said Tom McCaffery, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "It also means MTFs are effectively utilized as platforms that enable our military medical personnel to acquire and maintain the clinical skills and experience that prepares them for deployment in support of combat operations around the world.”
The report acknowledges that patient transitions will take time and “in some cases several years,” but adds that the Defense Department will revise its plans it if finds that local TRICARE networks can’t provide access to quality care.
“Until all the pieces are in place to ensure the best health care options are available in the civilian community for our beneficiaries, we will still be seeing the same patients as we have before this report was sent to Congress,” said Col. Jeanette Frantal, commander of the 42nd MDG. “It could take anywhere from three to five years to fully implement this change.”
“It’s my understanding the planning will take some time, but in the meantime, we will provide top-shelf healthcare,” added Col. Anthony Meador, Commander, Fox Army Health Center."
You can read about every affected facility HERE.