Most Clicked AMSUS SmartBrief Stories

1. VA wants to close old, little-used hospitals, clinics

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 18, 2015

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to close half-occupied and unused hospitals and clinics, but getting congressional support might be tricky. There are 336 buildings owned by the VA across the country that are aging, sparsely occupied or completely empty, resulting in more than $24 million a year in maintenance costs. "It's time to close the VA's old substandard and underutilized infrastructure," VA Secretary Robert McDonald said. Military Times (02/17)

2. Panel recommends privatizing Tricare

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 04, 2015

A nine-member commission considering changes to military pay and benefits released a report last week that recommends dissolving the Tricare health insurance system and instead providing a health care allowance that would reimburse active-duty personnel's family members for private-sector insurance chosen from a menu of plans. Politico (01/29) Washington Post (tiered subscription model), The (01/29)

3. Aftershocks from GSA scandal ripple through health agencies

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 11, 2015

The federal government began restricting travel and training budgets in 2012 after it was discovered that some General Services Administration employees spent lavishly at a 2010 Las Vegas conference. As a result, some federal health care providers, including mental-health professionals at military hospitals, have been unable to attend educational courses needed to maintain their licenses, and FDA researchers have been unable to travel to conferences and present their research. While new instructions from the White House aim to "streamline" the conference approval process for "mission critical" travel, problems remain. Washington Post (tiered subscription model), The (02/08)

4. House, Senate panels to consider eliminating Tricare

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 11, 2015

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees will hold separate hearings today to discuss eliminating Tricare in favor of more options through private health insurers, which was one of the main recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel on military compensation and benefits. The panel estimates that the Defense Department could save $26.5 billion between fiscal years 2016 and 2020 by eliminating Tricare and implementing some other health care changes. Hill, The (02/11)

5. Harmful components in dust put troops at risk in the Middle East

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 25, 2015

Troops serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East may be at elevated risk for lung damage due to dangerous microbes and metal content in the dust in those regions, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting. HealthDay News (02/23)

6. Commission points to small military health plan as a model for revamped Tricare

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 25, 2015

The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission says the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan is a potential model for a future Tricare Choice program. The plan, which serves 134,000 military family members, retirees and their dependents, uses incentives and cost-control strategies, such as interventions for high-risk patients and frequent emergency department users, and call centers featuring physicians and nurse practitioners. Participants give the plan high satisfaction ratings, and they have lower lengths of inpatient hospital stays and fewer emergency department visits compared with Tricare Prime enrollees. Military Times (02/20)

7. VA health system has failed to make recommended changes, GAO says

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 11, 2015

Bloomberg (02/10)

8. Proposed bill would allow veterans to enroll in HSAs

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 18, 2015

Veterans would be allowed to suspend their Tricare benefits and enroll in a health savings account under a bill proposed by Reps. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. Veterans could use an HSA to pay for medical costs and save for future medical expenses, Stewart says. Veterans must now permanently opt out of Tricare to participate in other health plans, such as HSAs. Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) (02/16)

9. Report: VA in need of more medical staff

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 11, 2015

Government Executive (02/05)

10. Carter outlines his priorities as he's sworn in as defense secretary

AMSUS SmartBrief | Feb 18, 2015

Ashton Carter was sworn in Tuesday as the new defense secretary. Outlining his priorities to Pentagon personnel, Carter vowed to assist the president in making sound national security decisions, ensure the strength and health of the nation's military and create a balanced defense budget. Stars and Stripes (02/17)

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