Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John M. McHugh (R-NY), ranking Republican on the Military Personnel Subcommittee, today released the following statement for the subcommittee’s hearing on the state of the military health care system:
“Thank you Dr. Snyder. Before I begin I’d like to thank you for holding this very important hearing on the state of the military health system and the extraordinary care it provides to our service members and their families. It is undeniable that the care provided to our troops, their families and to our retired beneficiaries is vital to the success of our military now and in the future.
“I’d also like to thank our witnesses, General Pollock, Admiral Arthur, General Roudebush, David Baker, David McIntyre and Steven Tough. Together these dedicated individuals work tirelessly to deliver the finest health care in very complex and challenging environments.
“I would particularly like to welcome General Pollock. I believe this is your first time testifying before this subcommittee and, although you assumed the responsibilities of the Surgeon General during a chaotic time for the Army, we wish you all the best as you lead the Army Medical Command through the challenges that it now faces. I would be remiss if I did not also mention that you are the first nurse to assume the duties of the Surgeon General and, for that reason especially, I offer you my sincere congratulations.
“Admiral Arthur, I understand that you intend to retire this summer, so this will likely be your last appearance before the subcommittee. You have my deep appreciation for your leadership and dedication in striving to deliver the highest quality healthcare to our sailors and Marines during your 33 years of service to the nation. Thank you, Admiral.
“There is no doubt that these are most difficult times for the military health system. One of the most severe challenges rests in the fact that, for the second year in a row, the budget for the Defense Health Program has been significantly reduced with the hope of Congressional support for changes to the benefit in the form of increased fees for TRICARE. Further, the budget assumes reductions to funding for military treatment facilities for the third year in a row with the expectation that these facilities must become more efficient. The fiscal year 2008 budget reduction is $2.1 billion. I am interested to hear from the witnesses about where these reductions might be realized and how they might affect the ability to provide care to our beneficiaries.
“The budget also includes an increase of $157 million dollars in civilian pay to fund an additional 2,712 positions planned for conversion from military to civilian positions in fiscal year 2008. In light of the 5,507 military positions that have already been converted since 2005, I can’t help but wonder what effect this will have on the ability of the military health system to carry out its mission. Given our witnesses’ expertise in recruiting and retaining medical professionals, I am interested in their prospective on the ability of the Services to attract high quality individuals into these positions.
“In light of the issues raised at Walter Reed Army Medical Center regarding the care of injured and wounded troops as they recover and transition either back to duty or to civilian life, I would like to also hear from the panels how they are working as partners to ensure these issues are resolved.
“I thank you for being here with us today and I look forward to your testimony.”