COVID causing a massive funding shortfall in the Defense Health Program, may require shift from sustainment/modernization efforts

“The Defense Department’s health program is facing a massive funding shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic, the top defense health official said Tuesday.”

“For the 2021 fiscal year, the Defense Health Program has $673 million in pandemic-related costs, and that is projected to grow to more than $1.8 billion, Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.”

“The Defense Health Program is among several Defense Department health-related appropriations accounts. For fiscal year 2021, the program had a budget of $33.2 billion, with $9.2 billion for in-house care and $15.8 billion for private sector care. The program also has funds for research, education and training.”

“The military health system includes 50 hospitals and hundreds of clinics serving 9.6 million Tricare beneficiaries, according to its website.”

“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $2.2 billion in supplemental funding for fiscal year 2020 to the system for its initial response to the pandemic, according to Adirim.”

“Of the $1.8 billion in projected pandemic costs for FY21, about $1 billion is related to private sector costs, which are higher than expected, she said. The unexpected costs are mainly from additional laboratory testing, personal protective equipment and other requirements, including public health surveillance and cleaning of medical facilities, according to Adirim’s written testimony…” Read the full article here.

Source: Coronavirus pandemic is causing a massive funding shortfall in the Defense Health Program — By Caitlin M. Kenney, April 20, 2021. Stars and Stripes.

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