Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to conduct a review of the U.S. military’s health system, focusing on access to care and on the quality of treatment provided to service members and their families.
The review will begin immediately and be led by Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, Pentagon spokesman Read Admiral John Kirby said last night in an e-mailed statement. After the 90-day review, Hagel will be given recommendations for improving areas that fail to meet nationally defined or Pentagon-directed standards, Kirby said.
Hagel’s decision puts focus on a military health system that serves more than 9.6 million beneficiaries, who include active-duty members of the armed forces, along with their family members and military retirees. The review will assess military facilities and civilian providers from which the Pentagon purchases health care, according to the statement.
The review will be held as President Barack Obama’s administration and U.S. lawmakers conduct separate inquiries into the quality of medical care offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Today, the House Veterans Affairs Committee is to hold a hearing at which VA officials are scheduled to testify on delays in the agency’s delivery of health care.
Hagel’s order was announced yesterday after the Army relieved the commander of the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, following the deaths of two patients, according to the New York Times. The Pentagon’s system-wide review was decided upon last week, before the personnel change at Womack, the Times reported, citing defense officials it didn’t identify.
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