Healthcare Business News

Don't blame the vets, and other letters

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: April 20, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

“Pentagon struggles with high cost of healthcare” contains many misrepresentations and untruths. “The cost of military healthcare has almost tripled since 2001” is misleading in that the reported costs are inflated by one-time fixes needed to address retention problems of the time and recent and future growth rates are now significantly lower and will be even lower because of forced cuts. The article says, “money dedicated to healthcare or benefits is money that's not spent on preparing troops for battle or pilots for missions.” Again, gross misrepresentation. The Defense Department has used health account funds as a “cash cow” to fund other needs. For example, $700 million was diverted in fiscal 2012 from healthcare funds. Also, fiscal 2012 reprogramming requested Congress to acknowledge that retiree costs went down 2.5%. Whereas the article says health costs “stands at 10% of the entire Defense budget,” it does not continue to say this is only 16% of all national spending. The article's overall tone is that military retirees and their families cause a disproportionate burden on this nation. Admittedly, active-duty and retired personnel and health costs are about one-third of the Defense Department budget. Compared to fleet-heavy corporations, the department does an outstanding job. The article quotes Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and backhandedly former Defense Secretaries Leon Panetta and Robert Gates as saying personnel costs are the problem. However, military people and families are not the problem. The problem lies with the Defense Department's structural/policy inefficiencies and leadership oversight/accountability failures.

Lt. Cmdr. Robert Edgar Smith, Medical Service Corps,
U. S. Navy retired, Manvel, Texas

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Workload worries

In the article: “Doctors complain about Vt. plan's regulations,” it is not discussed if the physicians pay/workload will increase or decrease accordingly with this plan.

Many physicians are being asked to see more patients in less time, which can sacrifice quality. What does the plan do to pay/workload, and how does it compare to the current system? Is there a way to incentivize physicians within this plan to work more and get compensated for those who choose to invest the extra time? Maybe this would assist in mediating some of the pushback.

Julianne Levine, physician liaison

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