United States Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, co-chair of the Senate Military Families Caucus – which is responsible for addressing challenges facing military families – recently led a roundtable discussion with military families. At the roundtable, Senator Kaine heard a common theme – the Military Health System can be cumbersome to navigate and is often not very user-friendly for families.
Typical complaints during the discussion included weeks-long wait times for primary care appointments, two-hour waits to get prescriptions filled, and difficulty getting referrals to specialists. The roundtable also revealed a need for more non-traditional medical care options, such as service animals for disabled children and specialized care for adults with PTSD. Senator Kaine said he left the conversation with “a lot to think about,” and going forward, he said he would prioritize removing barriers and streamlining the healthcare system to make it easier for service member families to use.
Congress has directed a series of reforms to the Military Health System in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. These reforms are designed to improve access to and the quality of healthcare, improve health outcomes and enhance beneficiary experiences with the System. Many of these priorities are already embodied in the US Family Health Plan model of care.
The US Family Health Plan provider organizations understand the culture of our military and the challenges military families face. US Family Health Plan member organizations strive to ensure beneficiaries get appointments when they need them. We also work to ensure they receive sustained and reliable access to care through a 24-hour nurse help line, in-home monitoring and other advanced approaches to care delivery. This value-based approach has kept US Family Health Plan military family and retiree members among the most satisfied healthcare patients in all of TRICARE and is a model for reform to the Military Health System.