DoD's top Doc visits Pacific Rim as preparations are made for strategic shift
October 16, 2012
HONOLULU -- As the national security strategy shifts to focus on the Pacific region, all of the Department of Defense's organizations are preparing to support.
During his visit to the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility, Oct. 8-10, Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and director, Tricare Management Activity, made his round to various organizations on Oahu, to include Tripler Army Medical Center.
"I needed to get out here to get greater fidelity on the health-related and health affairs-related issues that are in the region as this (area) becomes much more important," Woodson explained. "We have been trying to make some efforts to get a little bit more in harmony in terms of the inter-service policies related to health and we are doing the implementation and planning now for Defense Health Agency.
"The Asia-Pacific (region) is one of our most important markets where we have multiple services operating, so there is a lot to be learned about how we should be doing business," Woodson added.
In addition to his intent of bringing the services closer together, Woodson brought important messages to relay to leadership and beneficiaries in the Pacific. In April 2013, insurance shifts from TriWest Health Care Alliance to United Health Military and Veterans Services, and Woodson wanted to assure beneficiaries that there should be no disruption in care and the quality of their benefits, and their needs will be met.
"I want (beneficiaries) to know that we remain committed to serving their needs, and that medicine and health care are constantly evolving," Woodson explained. "It is about understanding what their needs are and the size of the beneficiary population. We are committed to enhancing our ability to deliver care."
Woodson has been working with the two companies to outline a smooth transition and said to date there have been no problems. He plans to continue to invest time in this effort to ensure there is no disruption in beneficiary care.
In addition to Tripler Army Medical Center, Woodson visited leadership and representative at Veterans Affairs-Pacific Island Health Care System; the Warrior Transition Battalion stationed at Schofield Barracks; U.S. Marine Corps Forces-Pacific; and U.S. Pacific Command.
"I am enormously impressed with the professionals out here who are working on these difficult issues and trying to move their strategy for delivering care well in to the 21st century," Woodson said. "We've got some responsibilities at the senior level of the Department of Defense and the services to assist … by breaking down barriers that have been created over time as different services have established individual policies and individual policies have been established between departments."