Transition Plan for Secure Families

Military Health

There are an estimated 1.7 million children of active duty and reserve military personnel who receive care through the Military Health System (MHS), either from military treatment facilities (MTFs) or through contracted care in the civilian sector.  Military connected children have unique needs and experiences compared with peers of the same age. These experiences often include frequent moves, prolonged separations, and deployments of family members. It is imperative that TRICARE cover needed services for children in military families and that they have access to pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists at MTFs and in the civilian sector. The administration needs to ensure that efforts to modernize the MHS does not jeopardize children’s access to a pediatrician and recognizes the important role active duty pediatricians play in the MHS.

Protect medical billets for pediatric providers. Some of the proposals to modernize the MHS include shifting care provided at MTFs to contracted care in the civilian sector for dependents of active duty members, along with reducing approximately 19,000 medical billets, including hundreds of pediatricians. While uniformed pediatricians have a long history of excellence as first-line physicians near combat, they are also distinguished in providing primary and specialty care to children.  Without an adequate number of uniformed pediatricians, the medical care of military children, especially those living in isolated duty locations, will suffer.

Expand, not eliminate, military pediatric graduate medical education (GME). The Department of Defense (DoD) GME program, and particularly the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), has provided the millions of Armed Forces families with a highly trained and accessible pediatric workforce. Recent proposals to reduce GME and USUHS billets are misguided, as civilian residency training spots are limited. The training programs provided through military GME billets and USUHS in much-needed pediatric subspecialties are crucial to providing needed medical care for children in military families.

Ensure that essential health care services are covered in TRICARE. As DoD and Defense Health Agency (DHA) prepare the fifth-generation TRICARE Managed Care Support Contracts (T-5), these contracts must cover health care services for children that align with Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents. It is imperative that insurers who contract to provide managed care for TRICARE beneficiaries are required to cover the Bright Futures guidelines as other insurers are required to do under the Affordable Care Act.

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American Academy of Pediatrics