NDRI Theme Day on Health Benefits for Military Retirees Attracts High-Level DoD Crowd

The Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs; the surgeon generals from the Air Force, Army, and Navy; and the Veteran Health Administration's (VHA) Undersecretary for Health were among a host of high-level attendees at a recent Theme Day that explored ways to improve the Department of Defense's (DoD) provision of health care benefits to Medicare-eligible military retirees.

Acting Assistant Defense Secretary Dr. J. Jarrett Clinton (Health Affairs); VHA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Thomas Garthwaite; Lt Gen Paul Carlton, Air Force Surgeon General; LTG James Peake, Army Surgeon General; and VADM Richard Nelson, Navy Surgeon General joined about 25 other defense and health care policymakers at a all-day session in RAND's Arlington office on April 17, 2001.

Put together by C. Ross Anthony, head of RAND's Center for Military Health Policy, the Theme Day involved DoD, HCFA, and VHA policymakers, outsiders, and RAND staff in facilitated discussions about steps that might taken by the DoD, HCFA, and the VHA to better provide and coordinate health care benefits to Medicare-eligible military retirees, whose benefits were greatly expanded last year in the National Defense Authorization Act. These benefits, known as Tricare For Life, are to be implemented no later than October 1 and involve many complex policy and implementation issues. How the DoD and Medicare can best coordinate and provide care, reduce duplication, and fund care for this population has become a matter of growing policy discussion.

After welcoming remarks from NSRD Vice President and NDRI Director Jeffrey Isaacson and Assistant Secretary for Health Jarrett Clinton, attendees heard presentations from RAND analysts and invited guests. Among other formal presentations by RAND staff, Barbara Wynn discussed Medicare benefits, Michael Schoenbaum explored options for improving care for depression, Joanne Lynn discussed ways to define and implement custodial care benefits, and Mark Spranca examined the private sector's experience with providing information to consumers. Later in the day, former Forces and Resources Policy Center Director Susan Hosek moderated a discussion on managing the needs of beneficiaries with extraordinary health conditions.

Ross Anthony and David Chu, Director of the Arroyo Center, wrapped up the day with a free-ranging discussion of the next steps that policymakers should consider.