The AAMC joined 14 health care and medical specialty organizations in an Aug. 14 letter urging House and Senate Armed Services Committee members to include provisions that address the preservation of the military medical workforce and transformation of the Military Health System in the final fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Specifically, the letter urges inclusion of Section 704 of the House-passed William M. (Mac) Thornberry NDAA for FY 2021 (H.R. 6395), which would extend an FY 2020 NDAA provision to limit realigning or reducing military medical personnel within the Department of Defense that followed the administration’s FY 2020 budget proposal to reduce military medical billets by approximately 18,000. The AAMC also sent a letter of support for the related provision in the FY 2020 NDAA [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 12, 2019].
The group letter additionally requests the incorporation of Section 705 of the House-passed bill, which would require the secretary of defense to establish a plan with reporting requirements on health outcomes before implementing restructuring of military treatment facilities.
In addressing the administration’s proposed cuts and trajectory toward transformation of the Military Health System broadly, the letter adds, “We are also concerned about proposals to move forward with steep cuts to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Services, which is the military’s preeminent medical training and research school. Were these cuts to move forward, it would have severe consequences for our military service member and family care.”
The letter also urges inclusion of Section 721 of the Senate-approved bill (S. 4049), which would delay the transfer of select military medical research organizations and public health commands to the Defense Health Agency, with research continuity being more acutely important in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the role that military research is playing in the development of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
Finally, the letter recommends the incorporation of Section 745 of the Senate-passed bill to require a study on force mix options and service models to optimize military medical readiness in delivering combat casualty care.
The House passed its version of the FY 2021 NDAA on July 21, followed by Senate passage of its FY 2021 bill on July 23. A conference committee with members from both the House and Senate will need to iron out differences before passage of a conference agreement by both chambers.