Maryland Delegation Members Push for DOD to Reconsider Changes to Military Base Clinics

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05), along with Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and Representatives Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony G. Brown, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone urged House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders to include a provision within the final defense authorization bill to require the Department of Defense (DOD) to closely examine recently proposed changes to military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). The members note in their letter that these changes could have serious impacts on the thousands of Marylanders who receive care at these facilities. As the coronavirus continues to impact communities across our state and put an increased strain on our healthcare system, it is crucial to ensure Marylanders’ access to care.

The Members write, “The Department of Defense is pursuing an effort to realign military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). Many of these facilities will pivot to serving only active-duty personnel. These changes will impact 80,000 active-duty family members and 120,000 retirees and their families."

They note these changes would impact clinics at Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Fort Detrick, Aberdeen Proving Ground, and Fort Meade, and underscore that, “These changes have been rushed through without sufficient public input and without the necessary effort to ensure that local health systems are informed of expected changes and prepared to absorb the surge of patients seeking care in the community."

The Members go on to press the committee leaders to preserve a provision already passed by the House of Representatives, requiring DOD to thoroughly review the proposed changes and their impacts to ensure local healthcare networks have the ability to step in and provide these services. In closing they urge, “Our constituents have contacted us to share their concerns with the proposed realignment of MTFs in Maryland. We are confident that they are not alone. We believe the House’s proposal is an appropriate response to these concerns that will require the Department to ensure that our active-duty military families, retirees, and retiree families will not lose access to quality health care or see interruptions in their care as a result of this action."

Click here to read the letter or see below.

Dear Chairman Inhofe, Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Reed, and Ranking Member Thornberry:

As the conference committee continues its negotiations for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA), we urge you to retain Section 718 of the House bill.

The Department of Defense is pursuing an effort to realign military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). Many of these facilities will pivot to serving only active-duty personnel. These changes will impact 80,000 active-duty family members and 120,000 retirees and their families.

In Maryland, the Department proposes restricting outpatient clinics at Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Fort Detrick, and Aberdeen Proving Ground to active-duty personnel. The ambulatory surgery center at Fort Meade would be downgraded to an outpatient clinic.

These changes have been rushed through without sufficient public input and without the necessary effort to ensure that local health systems are informed of expected changes and prepared to absorb the surge of patients seeking care in the community. Section 718 of the House bill responds to these concerns and requires the Department to do its diligence.

Specifically, this section would require the service secretaries to review military medical manpower requirements for all national defense strategy scenarios, identify billets affected by the proposed changes, and plan for the mitigation of any resulting health care service gaps. The Department would determine the capacity of local health care networks to provide care for beneficiaries affected by these changes and affected individuals would be entitled to a transition plan and a public forum to discuss their concerns.

Our constituents have contacted us to share their concerns with the proposed realignment of MTFs in Maryland. We are confident that they are not alone. We believe the House’s proposal is an appropriate response to these concerns that will require the Department to ensure that our active-duty military families, retirees, and retiree families will not lose access to quality health care or see interruptions in their care as a result of this action.

We appreciate your consideration and urge you to include Section 718 of the House NDAA in the final conference report.

Sincerely,

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