The AAMC joined over 20 health care and medical specialty organizations in an Oct. 6 letter urging House and Senate Armed Services Committee members to include a provision to address the preservation of the military medical workforce in the final fiscal year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The letter urged the inclusion of Section 721 of the FY 2022 House-passed NDAA (H.R. 4350) in the final conference report, which would modify AAMC-supported provisions from the FY 2020 and FY 2021 NDAAs [refer to Washington Highlights, Dec. 12, 2019, Aug. 28, 2020]. Section 721 would prevent the Department of Defense (DOD) from realigning or reducing military medical personnel within one year of enactment of the FY 2022 NDAA. Additionally, the provision would add billet validation requirements to the personnel estimates required of the DOD and require a Government Accountability Office report on the DOD analysis used to generate its medical billet estimates before workforce changes could be implemented.
In compliance with prior years’ NDAAs, the DOD and the Defense Health Agency submitted a joint report to the Armed Services Committees in August outlining their plan to reduce military medical personnel by 12,801 through FY 2027, including the elimination of 30 graduate medical education positions.
“Reductions of this size are alarming and fail to recognize the value of the uniformed medical clinician,” the group letter stated. “We are also concerned about what these proposals mean for Graduate Medical Education (GME) and training programs, in which some 30 GME positions would be eliminated, especially at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Services (USUHS), that help train and supply the [Military Health Service].”
”The inclusion of Section 721 in the final FY 2022 NDAA conference report is essential to preserving access to care for our servicemembers and their families, particularly as America is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter stated.
The House passed its version of the FY 2022 NDAA on Sept. 23 by a vote of 316-113, just one day after Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) filed committee-approved text (S. 2792) for full Senate consideration. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) indicated that there will be floor time for Senate consideration of the measure before certain authorizations in the bill will expire in December.