The military services are putting the finishing touches on a proposal to trim more than 17,000 uniformed military medical positions over the next several years in an effort primarily aimed at ensuring medical staff have adequate workloads to keep their skills sharp. The reduction is intended to strengthen the wartime skills of the medical force at base hospitals and clinics and to improve quality of care for beneficiaries, officials told Stars and Stripes. The precise scope of the planned reduction will not be clear until DOD releases its fiscal 2020 budget request next month. The cuts — covering doctors, dentists, nurses, technicians, medics and support personnel — would be carried out starting in FY 2021.
Draft figures shared with Stars and Stripes call for the uniformed Army medical staff to drop by almost 7,300, the Navy by almost 5,300 and the Air Force by just over 5,300.
From the perspective of defense communities, the plan can be expected to change the mix of providers delivering care on base and, as a result, shift more family care off base and onto Tricare provider networks. That change would result from the proposal’s emphasis on deployable skills. “We will expect to see an increase in certain skill sets [and] a decrease in other skill sets. More trauma surgeons, fewer pediatricians, for example. Those kinds of changes are right at the heart of what Congress has directed us to do,” a defense official said.
Army photo by Sgt. Micah Merrill