For someone who constantly claims to love and respect the military more than anyone on the face of the earth, Donald Trump and his administration sure don’t seem to be doing a damn thing to actually protect this nation’s service members.
According to a new 12-page memo reviewed by Military.com, sent to fifty different military treatment facility (MTFs) commanders, 38 military hospitals across the country will soon stop treating military families and retirees, forcing them to go off-base for treatment, and several of the pharmacies within these hospitals will soon refuse to provide medication to those who aren’t active duty.
The memo included a letter, signed by Director of the Defense Health Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald Pace, addressed to commanders, explaining the impending changes.
All of the changes are coming as a result of a 2016 order from Congress meant to strengthen “military readiness” — something that Donald Trump has been harping on since is first campaign days. As a result, approximately 18,000 uniformed medical personnel will be affected, and the main focus will turn to active duty members only, meaning the care and support offered to family members of military personnel as well as retired members of the service will be greatly reduced.
“DoD must adapt the military health system to focus more on readiness of the combined force, while continuing to meet our access to health care obligations for active-duty families, retirees, and their families,” the Pentagon’s memo to Congress, outlying their path to the impending changes reads. “With a challenging array of threats around the world, we need our military medical facilities to keep combat forces healthy and prepare our medical personnel to support them.”
The specific locations of the affected facilities as well as a timeline for the changes were not included in the memo and it’s yet to be determined how pushback from lawmakers will affect the future path of the plan. However, it was noted that one section labeled “not for public release” described a proposed plan to “reduce operations at 48 facilities and to expand or recapitalize operations at two others.”
“DoD recommends reducing the scope of operations to active duty and occupational health services only, while in many cases maintaining pharmacy services for all beneficiaries,” the memo states, regarding 38 of the 50 MTFs. “It is estimated that approximately 200,000 Military Health System beneficiaries who receive care at the MTFs identified for reduction in operations will transition to civilian providers,” in the militaries Tricare network.
As of now, on-base pharmacies are the only way for all Tricare subscribers to receive free medication on the same day it’s prescribed, including military retirees who are on the Tricare For Life plan.
“Some beneficiaries may see some increased out-of-pocket costs. Retirees and their families who receive care at MTFs generally do not incur out-of-pocket copays for that care. When these beneficiaries receive care from Tricare’s civilian network, they will incur co-payments,” the memo continues.
Tricare spokesperson Kevin Dwyer released a statement addressing the changes, “Until the Defense Department’s Report to Congress… is approved and released, the details in the report are still subject to change. For this reason, we are not yet able to discuss the details. As Lieutenant General Pace said in his letter to the commanders of our military hospitals and clinics, we recognized there will be concern, and many patients and staff will want to know as soon as possible what this means for them. Nothing is changing immediately, and all changes will be made in a deliberate and responsible fashion. The Department’s obligation to our patients has not changed.”
You can read the full report from Military.com here.
Featured image via Political Tribune gallery
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