A World Class Health System

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					TRICARE CONFERENCE: PLENARY DAY SPEECH
DR. WILLIAM WINKENWERDER, JR., MD, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (HEALTH AFFAIRS)
MARRIOTT WARDMAN PARK HOTEL, WASHINGTON, DC
FEBRUARY 4, 2002

      THANK YOU, MR CARRATO FOR THE INTRODUCTION.

       I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK DR DAVID CHU, THE UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR
PERSONNEL AND READINESS—AND MY BOSS—FOR JOINING US HERE THIS MORNING AND FOR TAKING
TIME FROM AN EXCEPTIONALLY BUSY SCHEDULE.

      I ALSO WANT TO RECOGNIZE AND THANK MR CHARLIE ABELL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF
DEFENSE FOR FORCE MANAGEMENT & PERSONNEL WHO IS WITH US THIS MORNING AND WHO HAS
BEEN SO HELPFUL TO THE TRICARE PROGRAM AND TO ME.

       FINALLY, I KNOW THAT HE HAS ALREADY BEEN INTRODUCED, BUT I AM ALSO VERY PLEASED TO
WELCOME MR. ED W YATT, WHO OFFICIALLY BECAME MY PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF DEFENSE FOR HEALTH AFFAIRS ABOUT 15 MINUTES AGO! ED, W ELCOME!

       THIS IS MY FIRST TRICARE CONFERENCE, AND IN THE BRIEF AMOUNT OF TIME THAT I HAVE
WITH YOU THIS MORNING, I WANT TO LET YOU KNOW ABOUT ME, ABOUT THE ISSUES I AM FOCUSED ON
FOR THE COMING YEAR, AND TO DISCUSS OUR PLANS FOR REACHING OUR GOALS.

      PRIOR TO MY CONFIRMATION, I ARRIVED AT THE PENTAGON FOR A SHORT PERIOD AS A
CONSULTANT. ON MY FIRST DAY, THE BUILDING STILL HAD WISPS OF SMOKE COMING FROM THE RUINS
OF SEPTEMBER 11TH. THE PARKING LOTS WERE TAKEN OVER BY RESCUE, RELIEF AND
RECONSTRUCTION WORKERS. THE DRUMBEAT WAS OF PREPARATIONS FOR WAR, BOTH HERE AND
ABROAD, AGAINST THE CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGERS OF TERRORISM AND BIOTERRORISM.

      ON OCTOBER 11TH, I APPEARED BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE FOR MY
CONFIRMATION HEARING. FOR MANY PEOPLE, THAT WOULD BE A MEMORABLE DAY IN AND OF ITSELF.
FOR ME, IT WAS THE SECOND MOST MEMORABLE EVENT OF THAT DAY. JUST TWO HOURS PRIOR TO
MY HEARING, I HAD THE HONOR OF ATTENDING THE REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY, LED BY PRESIDENT
BUSH AND SECRETARY RUMSFELD, AT THE PENTAGON FOR THE HEROES WHO LOST THEIR LIVES ON
SEPTEMBER 11TH.

        IT WAS A SIMULTANEOUSLY SOBERING AND UPLIFTING MOMENT TO BE RE-ENTERING PUBLIC
SERVICE. AT THE CEREMONY, SECRETARY RUMSFELD DELIVERED A VERY MOVING EULOGY. I WOULD
LIKE TO QUOTE ONE PASSAGE FROM THAT SPEECH:

      ―IN TARGETING THIS PLACE THEN AND THOSE WHO WORKED HERE, THE ATTACKERS, THE
      EVILDOERS CORRECTLY SENSED THAT THE OPPOSITE OF ALL THEY WERE AND STOOD FOR
      RESIDED HERE. THOSE WHO WORKED HERE, AND DIED HERE, WHETHER CIVILIAN OR IN
      UNIFORM … THEY SOUGHT NOT TO RULE BUT TO SERVE, THEY SOUGHT NOT TO OPPRESS BUT
      TO LIBERATE. THEY WORKED NOT TO TAKE LIVES BUT TO PROTECT THEM AND THEY TRIED
      NOT TO PREEMPT GOD BUT TO SEE TO IT HIS CREATURES LIVED AS HE INTENDED, IN THE LIGHT
      AND DIGNITY OF HUMAN FREEDOM.‖

      WE ARE HERE TO SERVE.
      THERE ISN’T A BETTER JOB TO HAVE TODAY THAN ONE IN SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY. I AM
PROUD TO BE PART OF THIS TEAM…AT THIS TIME, AT THIS PLACE, AND THIS MOMENT IN
HISTORY…AND I AM HONORED TO BE AMONG ALL OF YOU, WHO HAVE SACRIFICED SO MUCH FOR
MANY YEARS IN SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY.

        THE ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11TH AND THE WIELDING OF BIOLOGICAL TERROR THAT
FOLLOWED THE HIJACKINGS HAVE MOBILIZED THIS COUNTRY AND THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.
WHILE MEDICAL SUPPORT TO COMBAT FORCES HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT IN OUR
ABILITY TO FIGHT AND WIN WARS, MILITARY MEDICS HAVE BEEN AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE ON THE
―FRONT LINES‖ IN TODAY’S ENVIRONMENT.

       MILITARY MEDICAL PERSONNEL AND UNITS PROVIDED LIFE-SAVING CARE AT THE PENTAGON
CRASH SITE, PROVIDED SUPPORT IN NEW YORK CITY, COMFORTED AND COUNSELED VICTIMS’
FAMILIES, AND PROVIDED FORENSIC PATHOLOGY AND REMAINS IDENTIFICATION SERVICES FOR
VICTIMS OF THE PENTAGON ATTACK. IN RESPONSE TO THE DOMESTIC ANTHRAX ATTACKS, DOD ALSO
PARTICIPATED, PROVIDING ESSENTIAL LABORATORY SERVICES AND VACCINES FOR THE CIVILIAN
HEALTH AUTHORITIES, WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY MOBILIZING AND DEPLOYING TO AFGHANISTAN AND
THE SURROUNDING REGION. THESE ACTIVITIES SERVE AS TESTAMENT TO THE BROAD AND DEEP
SKILLS OF THE MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM, APPLIED NOW IN SUPPORT OF THE GLOBAL WAR ON
TERRORISM.

       AND, WHILE THESE WARTIME ACTIVITIES ARE UNDERWAY, WE CONTINUE TO SERVE 8.3
MILLION SERVICE MEMBERS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND RETIREES AND THEIR FAMILIES IN DELIVERING
COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH BENEFITS WORLDWIDE. THE LINK BETWEEN WARTIME AND PEACETIME
HEALTH CARE IS MADE CLEARER IN TIMES LIKE THESE – OUR CLINICIANS, TECHNICIANS AND OTHER
SUPPORT PERSONNEL NEED THE DAILY CHALLENGES PRESENT IN THE PEACETIME SYSTEM TO
MAINTAIN THEIR SKILLS AND THEIR EDGE.

       IN THE PAST TWO MONTHS, I HAVE MET WITH SOME OF YOU AT FT HOOD, FT SAM HOUSTON,
WILFORD HALL MEDICAL CENTER AND BROOKE ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, FT GORDON, MACDILL AIR
FORCE BASE, ON THE USS COMFORT, IN COLORADO SPRINGS, AND FORT BRAGG. W HILE I AM STILL
LEARNING A GREAT DEAL ABOUT MILITARY MEDICINE, THERE ARE A FEW CONCLUSIONS THAT I HAVE
REACHED. PRINCIPAL AMONG THEM IS THIS -- THE QUALITY AND THE ENERGY OF OUR MILITARY
MEDICAL TEAM IS SUPERB. I HAVE WORKED IN MANY AREAS OF THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY—AND MY
EARLY EXPERIENCES HERE IN DOD ASSURE ME THAT THE MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM IS WELL
POSITIONED TO BE THE PREEMINENT HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN THE COUNTRY.

       I WILL BE ADDRESSING OUR MTF COMMANDERS LATER IN THIS CONFERENCE, AND HOPE TO
ENGAGE YOU IN MORE DETAILED DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THE PRIORITIES I HAVE ESTABLISHED FOR
2002, BUT I WOULD LIKE TO BRIEFLY OUTLINE MY 4 PRIORITIES FOR EVERYONE THIS MORNING:

1 - TO IMPROVE OUR W ELL-ESTABLISHED EXCELLENCE IN MEDICAL READINESS,
2- TO IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF TRICARE,
3 - TO STRENGTHEN OUR RELATIONSHIPS OUTSIDE OF DOD, AND
4 - TO ENSURE WE CONTINUE TO RECRUIT AND RETAIN THE FINEST MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN THE
WORLD.

      LET ME TALK BRIEFLY ABOUT EACH.

FIRST, IMPROVE MEDICAL READINESS
      ALWAYS THE PRIMARY MISSION AND TOP PRIORITY, IMPROVING FORCE HEALTH PROTECTION
AND MEDICAL READINESS DEMANDS EVEN GREATER ATTENTION AND RESOURCES.

       BIOLOGICAL WARFARE IS NO LONGER A THEORETICAL POSSIBILITY. NOT JUST DOD’S, BUT
THE NATION’S VACCINATION POLICIES AND PROGRAMS MUST BE GREATLY BOLSTERED AND
REFOCUSED. THE PRESIDENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT LAST WEEK IN HIS STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
INDICATES THAT VACCINES TO COMBAT BIOTERRORISM WILL BE AN URGENT NATIONAL PRIORITY. OUR
GOAL MUST BE TO GET THIS JOB DONE!

       AS YOU KNOW , DOD’S ANTHRAX VACCINE IMMUNIZATION PROGRAM WAS SCALED BACK AS
THE DEPARTMENT WORKED WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO
RESUME PRODUCTION OF THIS VITAL VACCINE, AND DELIVER IT SAFELY TO OUR SERVICE MEMBERS.
THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION WILL CERTIFY THE BIOPORT FACILITY, AND THE PRODUCTION
OF ANTHRAX VACCINE WILL RESUME. W E WILL SOON ANNOUNCE OUR POLICY WITHIN DOD ON HOW
WE WILL PRIORITIZE THE RESUMPTION OF OUR VACCINATION EFFORTS. BUT ONE THING IS CERTAIN –
THE MILITARY MEDICAL COMMUNITY’S LEADERSHIP—YOUR LEADERSHIP – WILL BE ONE OF THE MOST
CRITICAL ELEMENTS IN COMMUNICATING OUR FUNDAMENTAL BELIEF THAT NOT ONLY IS THE VACCINE
SAFE AND EFFECTIVE, BUT THAT WE VIEW THIS VACCINE AS OFFERING ESSENTIAL PROTECTION TO
OUR MILITARY PERSONNEL. AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, WHERE THE VACCINATIONS OCCUR, YOU ARE THE
TRUSTED INDIVIDUALS WHO ASSURE OUR PEOPLE OF THE SAFETY OF THE VACCINE AND THE
PROTECTION IT OFFERS. I NEED YOUR HELP TO COMMUNICATE THIS CRITICAL MESSAGE.

       IMPROVED MEDICAL SURVEILLANCE IS ANOTHER NATIONAL PRIORITY. THE MILITARY HEALTH
SYSTEM HAS A NUMBER OF MEDICAL SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS THAT OFFER THE ABILITY TO DETECT
BIOLOGICAL OR CHEMICAL AGENTS. THESE SYSTEMS ARE OF GREAT INTEREST TO FEDERAL, STATE
AND LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS AND WILL BENEFIT THE NATIONAL PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM IN ITS
EFFORTS TO BOLSTER THE HOMELAND DEFENSE PROGRAM. AT THE SAME TIME, WE WILL NEED TO
ENHANCE OUR OWN SURVEILLANCE CAPABILITIES AND ENSURE OUR EFFORTS ARE COORDINATED AND
ARE LINKED TO OTHER MEDICAL INFORMATION SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS.

       OUR MEDICAL READINESS TRAINING PROGRAMS, PARTICULARLY IN THE AREA OF BIOLOGICAL
AND CHEMICAL WARFARE, DEMAND SIGNIFICANT ATTENTION AS WE RE-TOOL FOR THE EMERGING
THREATS. THERE IS A STRONG FOUNDATION ON WHICH WE BUILD—MANY DOD PROGRAMS ARE LED
BY ACCOMPLISHED EXPERTS, AND EMPLOYEES FROM OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES ACTIVELY COMPETE
FOR PARTICIPATION. BUT, WE MUST BETTER DEFINE THE BASELINE TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
THROUGHOUT THE MILITARY MEDICAL SYSTEM AND IMPROVE OUR MONITORING OF TRAINING—OUR
GOAL IS THAT ALL MILITARY HEALTH PERSONNEL BE TRAINED TO RECOGNIZE AND MANAGE CHEMICAL
AND BIOLOGICAL AGENTS, AND THEIR CONSQUENCES FOR INDIVIDUALS AND POPULATIONS. YOU WILL
HEAR MUCH MORE ABOUT THIS EFFORT DURING THE WEEK, AND IN THE MONTHS AHEAD.

SECOND, WE ARE GOING TO IMPROVE TRICARE

      WHEN, I SAY THAT ONE OF MY PRIORITIES IS TO IMPROVE TRICARE, I WANT TO BE CLEAR.   WE
ALREADY HAVE A VERY STRONG PROGRAM. MY GOAL IS TO ESTABLISH TRICARE AS THE
PREEMINENT HEALTH PLAN IN THE COUNTRY.

       2001 WAS A WATERSHED YEAR FOR THE TRICARE PROGRAM. THE INTRODUCTION OF NEW
PROGRAMS AND BENEFITS WAS A SUCCESS FOR EVERY MEMBER OF THE MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM.
I CREDIT EVERY LEVEL OF THE ORGANIZATION – EVERY ONE OF YOU IN THIS AUDIENCE. YOU SHOULD
BE RIGHTFULLY PROUD. YOU HAVE RAISED THE BAR – THE TRICARE PROGRAM HAS BEEN MADE
WHOLE—THE PROMISE HAS BEEN RESTORED--NO ONE IS LEFT OUT.
       FOR THE 65 AND OVER POPULATION, WE EXPANDED MAJOR BENEFITS TO 1.5 MILLION PEOPLE
AT A COST OF ALMOST $4 BILLION PER YEAR—PROVIDING THESE BENEFICIARIES WITH A MEDICAL
BENEFIT THAT IMPROVES THEIR QUALITY OF LIFE, AND REDUCES THEIR PERSONAL COSTS, TO INCLUDE
SOMETIMES EXPENSIVE COVERAGE FOR MEDICARE SUPPLEMENTAL POLICIES. ONE ISSUE THAT WE
KNEW WOULD BE CHALLENGING WAS OUR OUTREACH EFFORTS TO THOSE BENEFICIARIES WHO MAY
HAVE NOT BEEN IN CONTACT WITH THE MILITARY SYSTEM FOR MANY YEARS. DESPITE OUR ATTEMPTS
TO REACH ALL BENEFICIARIES THROUGH MAILINGS AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS, WE HAVE LEARNED
THAT THERE REMAIN A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER WHO HAVE NOT UPDATED THEIR ELIGIBILITY IN DEERS
OR DID NOT RECEIVE OUR MAILING TO UPDATE THEIR OTHER HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE. THIS
HAS LED TO A NUMBER OF CLAIM DENIALS. W E ARE WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE BENEFICIARY
ORGANIZATIONS TO QUICKLY FIX THIS MATTER, IN THE SAME MANNER WE HAVE APPROACHED OTHER
PROBLEMS THAT HAVE ARISEN -- EARLY IDENTIFICATION; RAPID AND ACCURATE COMMUNICATION, AND
SOLUTIONS THAT PLACE RESPONSIBILITY ON US, AND NOT ON OUR CUSTOMERS.

      THERE ARE OTHER ELEMENTS OF OUR HEALTH DELIVERY SYSTEM THAT ALSO PROVIDE THE
FOUNDATION FROM WHICH WE WILL LEAD THE COUNTRY. IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS WE’VE
ROLLED OUT NUMEROUS MAJOR TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS … SOLUTIONS THAT IMPROVE FRONT-LINE
MEDICAL READINESS, INCREASE THE QUALITY OF CARE, AND ENHANCE BUSINESS DECISIONS.
EXAMPLES INCLUDE:
      - OUR ―PHARMACY DATA TRANSACTION SYSTEM‖ PROVIDES NEAR-REAL-TIME GLOBAL
      CONNECTIVITY BETWEEN 340 MILITARY AND 41,000 CIVILIAN PHARMACIES.
      - THE ―DEFENSE MEDICAL LOGISTICS STANDARD SUPPORT‖ PROGRAM HAS SUCCESSFULLY
      ENTERED THE NEW FIELD OF E-BUSINESS. LAST YEAR ALONE, USING DMLSS (DIMMELS),
      THE MHS PROCESSED 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS.
      - THE ―NATIONAL ENROLLMENT DATABASE‖ AND TRICARE ON-LINE HAVE MADE GREAT
      STRIDES IN IMPROVING DATA ACCURACY AND SIMPLFYING PROCESSES FOR OUR
      BENEFICIARIES.

       IN ADDITION TO THESE RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS, SEVERAL PROJECTS ON THE NEAR-TERM
HORIZON PROMISE EXCITING IMPROVEMENTS AND INNOVATIONS--THE ROLLOUT OF THE ―THEATER
MEDICAL INFORMATION PROGRAM‖ ALSO KNOWN AS TMIP (T-MIP) WILL ALLOW FRONT-LINE COMBAT
MEDICS TO ―FIGHT LIKE THEY TRAIN‖ WITH SCALED-DOWN BATTLEFIELD VERSIONS OF THE SAME
PATIENT CARE AND LOGISTICS APPLICATIONS THEY USE AT HOME; THE LATEST VERSION OF THE
―CENTRALIZED CREDENTIALS QUALITY ASSURANCE SYSTEM (C-C-QUAS) WILL BE WEB-BASED, AND
PERHAPS MOST SIGNIFICANTLY, WE WILL INTRODUCE CHCS II (C-H-C-S TWO). THESE INITIATIVES
ARE REQUIRED FOR A LEADER IN HEALTH CARE. I THINK YOU WILL BE PLEASED WITH THE PRODUCTS.

       MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SPECIFIC SYSTEMS ARE THE 2 SIMPLE OBJECTIVES WE SET FOR
OUR SYSTEMS – IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE AND SATISFACTION, AND IMPROVE OUR EFFICIENCY BY
PROVIDING DECISION-MAKERS WITH TIMELY AND USEFUL INFORMATION. THE DECISION-MAKER COULD
BE THE BENEFICIARY, A PROVIDER, THE SURGEON GENERAL OR ME. I BELIEVE THAT THE SYSTEM
IMPROVEMENTS COMING IN 2002 WILL DELIVER ON BOTH OBJECTIVES.

        IN TRICARE FOR 2002, WE WILL BEGIN TO IMPLEMENT REVISED BUSINESS CONCEPTS FOR
CONTRACTED CARE AND WE WILL BEGIN THE PROCESS OF COMPETING NEW TRICARE CONTRACTS.
THIS IS AN ENORMOUS EFFORT, AND WILL REQUIRE CLOSE COORDINATION WITH MANY PARTIES – THE
LEADERS IN THIS ROOM, BOTH MEDICAL AND NON-MEDICAL, THE DOD COMPTROLLER, OMB,
CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS, AND OUR BENEFICIARY REPRESENTATIVES. THE PROCESS HAS BEGUN. I
AM COMMITTED TO MOVING THIS EFFORT IN A COORDINATED FASHION – THAT IMPROVES BOTH THE
RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF LOCAL COMMANDERS, AND REWARDS THEM FOR MAKING
GOOD DECISIONS.

I AM EQUALLY COMMITTED TO CHANGING THE WAY WE MEASURE OURSELVES. WE CAN NO LONGER
MEASURE PERFORMANCE AGAINST HISTORICAL RECORDS OR THE LAST YEAR. WE—ALL OF US IN THIS
ROOM--ARE GOING TO ESTABLISH SPECIFIC GOALS AND PERFORMANCE TARGETS, BENCHMARKED
AGAINST NATIONAL AND CIVILIAN INDUSTRY NORMS, AND THEN WE WILL MONITOR ACTUAL
PERFORMANCE AGAINST THOSE TARGETS AT EVERY MTF, AT THE SERVICE LEVEL, AND FOR DOD.

MY THIRD PRIORITY FOR THE COMING YEAR IS REACHING OUT

        ONE OF MY EARLIEST OBSERVATIONS OF THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE
TRICARE FOR LIFE BENEFITS HAS BEEN THE EFFORTS OF DOD, THE TRICARE MANAGEMENT
ACTIVITY (TMA) AND SERVICE LEADERSHIP TO WORK CLOSELY WITH MILITARY BENEFICIARY
REPRESENTATIVES – COLLECTIVELY REPRESENTED THRU THE MILITARY COALITION AND THE
NATIONAL MILITARY VETERANS ALLIANCE. THE LEADERS OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS ARE WITH US
TODAY. I BELIEVE THE MODEL THAT WE DEVELOPED AND USED FOR THE TRICARE FOR LIFE
IMPLEMENTATION SHOULD BE THE MODEL FOR ALL INITIATIVES. OPEN DIALOGUE, FREQUENT
MEETINGS, AN ENVIRONMENT OF TRUST, COMMUNICATING OUR MISTAKES AND OUR PLAN FOR FIXING
THEM ARE BASIC TENETS OF A TOP-QUALITY COMMUNICATION EFFORT. IT IS ALSO A CORE
REQUIREMENT FOR ESTABLISHING OURSELVES AS THE NATIONAL LEADER IN HEALTHCARE DELIVERY.
IN THE END, WE CANNOT PRONOUNCE OURSELVES THE BEST HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IN THE
COUNTRY—THE PEOPLE WE SERVE MUST DO THAT. W E ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH IN THAT OUTREACH
EFFORT.

      BUT MUCH MORE IS REQUIRED, AND EXPECTED. FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE MUST BEGIN TO
REACH OUT MORE OFTEN AND MORE PROACTIVELY TO OUR FEDERAL COLLEAGUES – IN THE
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AND THE
CONGRESS. OUR AGENDA MUST BE DEFINED WITH OTHERS, NOT BY OTHERS!

        PRESIDENT BUSH EXPECTS A CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DOD AND THE VA TO
IMPROVE VETERANS’ HEALTH CARE. RESOURCE SHARING ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN THE VA AND
DOD HAVE PROVEN BENEFICIAL. MANY OF YOU HAVE SHARING AGREEMENTS AT YOUR FACILITY. ONE
THING I WOULD LIKE YOU TO ―TAKEBACK‖ FROM THIS CONFERENCE IS TO RETURN TO YOUR FACILITIES
AND QUESTION WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO TO COLLABORATE WITH THE VA – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE
COLOCATED VA FACILITY TO DO THIS – THINK CREATIVELY ABOUT WHAT OPPORTUNITIES MAY EXIST.
IN 2002, WE WILL DO MORE WITH THE VA AND IMPROVE COLLABORATION, INFORMED BY THE
FORTHCOMING REPORT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE. AGAIN, BUILDING UPON A STRONG
FOUNDATION, WE WILL SEEK TO IDENTIFY THOSE AREAS WHERE IT IS IN THE INTEREST OF OUR
SYSTEMS AND THE US TAXPAYER TO CONSIDER JOINT CONSTRUCTION, RESOURCE SHARING, JOINT
PURCHASING, OR COORDINATION OF OTHER MEDICAL EXPERTISE—TO INCLUDE SHARING
OPPORTUNITIES IN GERIATRIC CARE, SKILLED NURSING CARE AND HOME HEALTH CARE SERVICES.

       THE DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE HAS ASKED ME TO TAKE THE DOD LEAD IN
ESTABLISHING A SENIOR LEVEL COORDINATING COUNCIL WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES TO IMPROVE THE COORDINATION AND VISIBILITY OF IMPORTANT JOINT ACTIVITIES
AS WELL AS NEW ACTIVITIES MADE MORE URGENT FOLLOWING SEPTEMBER 11TH. THERE HAVE
HISTORICALLY BEEN A NUMBER OF SUCCESSFUL WORKING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE MILITARY
HEALTH SYSTEM AND HHS’S FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
AND PREVENTION, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES (FORMERLY HCFA), AND THE
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS. I SUPPORT THESE RELATIONSHIPS. I WANT TO ENSURE
THESE SUCCESSES ARE GIVEN VISIBILITY AS WE JOINTLY IDENTIFY NEW AREAS OF COLLABORATION TO
COMPLEMENT EXISTING INITIATIVES. A CRITICAL TEST FOR US IN THE COMING YEAR WILL BE HOW WE
MANAGE INTER-DEPARTMENTAL EFFORTS ON VACCINE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, AND HOW WE
WILL WORK TOGETHER TO TRAIN AND PREPARE STATES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO PREPARE FOR
TERRORISM.

       BY IMPROVING OUR RELATIONSHIPS ACROSS FEDERAL AGENCIES AND PARTICIPATING IN
COORDINATED NATIONAL HEALTH CARE EFFORTS, WE WILL HELP OURSELVES AND CONTRIBUTE TO
THE SHARED MISSION OF IMPROVING BOTH THE U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH CARE INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE
US HEALTH CARE DELIVERY SYSTEM.

FINALLY, BUT NOT LEAST, I WILL FOCUS ON RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION

       THE SUCCESS THAT THE MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM HAS ENJOYED CAN BE ATTRIBUTED FIRST
AND FOREMOST TO OUR ABILITY TO RECRUIT AND KEEP THE FINEST TEAM OF MEDICAL
PROFESSIONALS—OFFICER AND ENLISTED—IN THE COUNTRY. PAST SUCCESS, HOWEVER, DOES NOT
GUARANTEE CONTINUED SUCCESS. W E MUST CONTINUE TO PLACE GREAT EMPHASIS ON OUR PEOPLE
– AND REWARDING THEM FOR THE FINE WORK THEY PERFORM.

      WE CAN’T JUST DEPEND ON THE EXCITEMENT OF A MILITARY CAREER, AND THE DESIRE TO
SERVE ONE’S COUNTRY AS THE ONLY FACTORS LEADING TO A MILITARY MEDICAL CAREER. FINANCIAL
CONSIDERATIONS ALSO PLAY A SIGNIFICANT PART. ALL OF OUR PAY, INCENTIVE, BONUS, AND
RETENTION PROGRAMS ARE UNDER REVIEW AS WE DEVELOP OUR STRATEGY TO MAINTAIN A QUALITY
MEDICAL FORCE.

       I WOULD LIKE TO RETURN TO MY OWN EARLY CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE MHS:
THE EXCELLENCE OF THIS TEAM IS FIRST - RATE – A FACT THAT IS INCREASINGLY UNDERSTOOD BY
LEADERS ACROSS GOVERNMENT
        THE BENEFIT IS GREAT AND
        EVERYONE HAS BEEN MADE WHOLE.
        THE TABLE HAS BEEN SET FOR US. AND WE’VE GOT A LOT OF WORK TO DO.


       IT IS CLEAR TO ME THAT THE MILITARY IS NOT A COMPLACENT GROUP. THIS IS AN
ORGANIZATION THAT THRIVES ON COMPETITION, AND ―LOSING‖ IS NOT AN OPTION. THIS IS A ROOM
FULL OF WINNERS.

      WE ARE GOING TO TAKE A VERY GOOD PROGRAM – IN READINESS, IN TRICARE, IN PERSONAL
ACHIEVEMENT, AND RAISE BOTH THE LEVEL OF PERFORMANCE AND THE AWARENESS OF OUR
ACHIEVEMENTS IN PUBLIC HEALTH, MEDICINE AND HEALTH CARE DELIVERY.

      WINSTON CHURCHILL ONCE SAID, THAT THE UNITED STATES IS LIKE A FURNACE…ONCE THE
BURNER IS LIT, THERE’S NO LIMIT TO THE ENERGY IT CAN PRODUCE.

        I’VE ALREADY SEEN THE ENERGY IN THE MILITARY MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS I’VE VISITED
WITH. I LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING WITH MORE OF YOU AT THIS CONFERENCE, HEARING YOUR
THOUGHTS AND IDEAS ON HOW WE CAN IMPROVE EVEN MORE, AND TO MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF
THE COMING YEAR.

      THANK YOU AGAIN FOR BEING HERE, FOR THE SERVICE YOU RENDER TO OUR COUNTRY, AND
FOR THE SACRIFICES YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES MAKE TO SERVE AMERICA. I WISH YOU ALL A VERY
PRODUCTIVE CONFERENCE.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

				
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