Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

Deputy defense secretary stresses team approach in battling COVID

Image of Soldier wearing mask, standing at computer monitors in an office building. Army Maj. Nicholas Gauvin works inside Operation Warp Speed headquarters in Washington, D.C., last month. (Photo by EJ Hersom, DOD.)

Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist emphasized a years-long reform of the Military Health System while praising the short-term effort of private industry, other government agencies, and the MHS working together toward a COVID-19 vaccine goal in his speech this week at the virtual 2020 annual meeting of AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals.

In his address, “The National Defense Strategy in 2020,” Norquist said while the general news of the COVID-19 vaccines in development and testing have been in the news for the past month or so, what we’re really seeing has been ongoing for 2020 — and even well before.

Norquist said that careful planning, correct execution, and making sure the vaccines are safe, effective, and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards are crucial, whether in another pandemic or a different crisis.

Early on, leaders need to say, “what do we need to be as the end solution, not just the response to today, and how do I put in place a team to do that?” Norquist said.

Focusing solely on that long-term solution is what MHS has done with the Department of Health and Human Services and Operation Warp Speed, he emphasized.

Image of Deputy Secretary Norquist Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist praised the operation during his speech to the 2020 Annual Meeting of AMSUS. (Photo by EJ Hersom, DOD.)

The Military Health System has played an important role implementing the National Defense Strategy, Norquist said. By undertaking critical reforms, the MHS is working on fulfilling the strategy’s first line of effort: to build a more lethal and ready force.

The MHS is one of the largest DOD programs, with a budget of more than $50 billion each year, and “warrants extra attention,” Norquist said.

In 2017, Congress directed the largest health care system reform in over a generation, recognizing the need to reform the military medical force and military medical treatment facilities.

“We need personnel with the right specialties to treat patients on and off the battlefield,” Norquist said. “Congress recognized that we were short on critical wartime specialties. Many of our military medical personnel provide services that are similar to the private sector. But we have fewer prepared to meet warfighter needs. As a result, Congress mandated DOD to rethink how we organize, train, and equip our medical force.

“Our goal is to achieve and sustain an appropriate specialty mix,” Norquist added. “While beneficiary care will always be important, Congress recognized the DOD needs to lead in the area it knows best. This change will save lives. The second major change concerns our [military medical treatment facilities]. This reform is related to the first, and it addresses efficiency in one of the largest cost drivers of the Military Health System. Congress directed us to transfer control of [military medical treatment facilities] from the services to the Defense Health Agency.”

Consolidating beneficiary care to the Defense Health Agency and focusing the service surgeons general on readiness removes risk, Norquist said, and leads to greater efficiencies and lower costs.

“Of course, I’d be remiss if I did not mention our progress on Operation Warp Speed, a joint effort with HHS to deliver safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics in record time,” he added.

“Operation Warp Speed will enable immediate large-scale delivery of millions of doses, something only possible because production is already ongoing,” Norquist said, underscoring military readiness well before the vaccines were fully developed.

You also may be interested in...

Infographic
Jul 25, 2023

COVID-19: Increased Risk

You Might be at Increased Risk

COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there are limited data and information about the impact of many underlying medical conditions on the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know at this time, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19: Asthma ...

Infographic
Jul 25, 2023

COVID-19: Underlying Condition List

Graphic explaining the risk of severe illness to COVID-19 under certain medical conditions. Certain underlying medical conditions put you at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death. Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19: Cancer; Chronic kidney disease; COPD; Down Syndrome; Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies; Immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant; Obesity; Pregnancy; Sickle cell disease; Smoking; or Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Certain underlying medical conditions put you at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death.

Infographic
Jun 22, 2023

COVID-19: Reduce Your Risk

Graphic explaining how to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19. It is especially important for people with certain underlying medical conditions at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, to protect themselves from getting COVID-19.  The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to: Limit your interactions with other people; Wear a mask over your nose and mouth; Stay 6 feet away from others; Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces; Wash your hands often; Clean and disinfect; and Monitor your health daily.

It is especially important for people with certain underlying medical conditions at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, to protect themselves from getting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to: Limit your interactions with other people ...

Infographic
Jun 22, 2023

COVID-19: What to do if You're at Risk

Graphic explaining how to what you should do if you have an underlying medical condition during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have an underlying medical condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan. Continue your medicines and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider. Have at least a 30-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines. Talk to a healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an extra supply (i.e., more than 30 days) of prescription medicines, if possible, to reduce your trips to the pharmacy. Do not delay getting emergency care for your underlying medical condition because of COVID-19. Emergency departments have contingency infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care. Call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your underlying medical conditions or if you get sick and think that you may have COVID-19. If you need emergency help, call 911 right away. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, contact your nearest medical treatment facility or clinic.

If you have an underlying medical condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan. Continue your medicines and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider. Have at least a 30-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines. Talk to a healthcare provider, insurer, and pharmacist about getting an ...

Infographic
Jul 1, 2022

Anyone Can Get Vaccinated

Anyone Can Get Vaccinated Infographic

Now that anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, share this graphic to encourage your community to get vaccinated.

Last Updated: January 19, 2024
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery