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Phase 1 of DHA transition set to begin

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) -- The Defense Health Agency will assume responsibility for the administration and management of healthcare at all military medical treatment facilities through a phased approached starting Oct. 1, 2018.

The transition is mandated by 2017 National Defense Authorization Act to improve access to quality care for beneficiaries, while enhancing readiness by redefining the roles of the military medical departments and the DHA. These changes were passed with the intent to create an integrated, efficient and effective system of readiness and health that better supports the lethality of the force. Each Service, however, will remain responsible for operational mission support and readiness.

Phase 1 of the transition calls for the DHA to assume direct management and administration of hospitals and clinics at Fort Bragg, N.C.; Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.; Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.; Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; and associated clinics. This is in addition to the facilities already under the DHA’s management and administration: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital, and their associated clinics.

Seymour Johnson AFB is also on the list of clinics to begin the first phase. Col. Craig Keyes, 4th Medical Group commander, is looking to have a smooth transition within the first phase and is committed to working hand-in-hand with the DHA to execute a successful transition and minimize impact to the delivery of care.

“We’re working with DHA, the Air Force Surgeon General’s team, and the other seven tri-service Phase 1 sites to plan for all the actions needed to combine three different organizations into a highly effective health care system that’s standardized across the whole Department of Defense,” Keyes said.

Greater integration of services within the Military Health System strengthens both the readiness and support to the combatant forces. The integration will lead to greater levels of standardization and consistency as well as gain more efficiency by eliminating duplication in some medical costs.

The DHA will be responsible for providing clinical experiences within the hospitals and clinics for medical personnel to meet their service-generated readiness requirements, and for supporting the medical departments in establishing partnerships with civilian institutions, the Department of Veterans Affairs or other practice venues when necessary to maintain the readiness of uniformed medical personnel.

Regardless of phases, all hospitals and clinics will follow agency policies, procedures and standard clinical and business processes beginning Oct. 1, 2018. In the absence of published DHA issuances, current department policies and procedures will remain in effect until superseded by the DHA published policies.

As the Department’s chief advisor on medical issues, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs has been designated to lead this transition and to develop a comprehensive and integrated implementation plan in coordination with the Services.

“Now through October 1st and beyond, I’d like us all to uphold a few key priorities that will guide our collective approach,” said Tom McCaffery, acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the Military Health System senior leaders. “We must never lose sight of our core mission, which is to support the warfighter and care for the patient. We must leverage the transition to build and strengthen a truly integrated and even more effective and efficient health care system. And lastly, we must commit to integration and coordination of our readiness and health care delivery missions.”

For more information on the National Defense Authorization Act, visit: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114-congress/senate-bill/2943/text.

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