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Shelby holds hearing to consider defense health program

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, conducted a subcommittee hearing to consider the Fiscal Year 2019 budget request for the Defense Health Program.

“I am pleased to welcome our distinguished panel to review the funding request for the military health system and medical readiness of our service members,” Shelby said. The panel included: Lieutenant General Nadja West, Surgeon General of the Army; Vice Admiral Forrest Faison, Surgeon General of the Navy; Lieutenant General Mark Ediger, Surgeon General of the Air Force; and Ms. Stacy Cummings, Program Executive Officer of the Defense Healthcare Management Systems.

“This committee supports the advancements that our military has made in treating our wounded,” Shelby said. “From quicker treatment of injuries and medical evacuations from the battlefield, to medical research breakthroughs and technology-assisted remote care. Last year, the Department deployed its new electronic health records system at four sites in the Pacific Northwest. The goals of this program are to provide better quality of care and a better value to the taxpayer by achieving an integrated electronic health record for servicemembers, veterans, and their families.”

“The Department of Defense recently initiated a review of the program and we look forward to hearing an update on what challenges remain ahead to improve coordination with the Department of Veterans Affairs and private health care providers,” Shelby said. “We hope to hear more about your priorities and work to improve medical readiness and provide quality healthcare to our servicemembers and their families.”

The Trump Administration is requesting $686.1 billion for defense in FY 2019, up from $611.8 billion in the budget plus the emergency appropriation, effectively a $74.2 billion increase. The restored Defense spending is part of President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again Agenda. Still that would only be 3.1 percent of gross domestic product, which is still down from 4.5 percent in 2010.

The Military Health System (MHS) is a unique partnership of health care providers, medical educators, and medical researchers.

It is prepared to respond anytime, anywhere with comprehensive medical capabilities to support military operations, natural disasters and humanitarian crises around the globe and to ensure delivery of world-class health care to all Department of Defense (DoD) service members, retirees, and their families. The MHS promotes a fit, healthy and protected force by delivering safe, high-quality care to more than 9.5 million eligible beneficiaries around the world.

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The FY 2019 UMB request is $50.6 billion.

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Shelby is the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense.

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