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Pentagon Tells Military Hospitals to Treat Dependents and Retirees

October 06, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon, concerned about rising health insurance costs, said Monday it has ordered military hospitals to treat more dependents of servicemen and retirees instead of sending them to civilian facilities.

The decision, which was outlined in a memorandum sent Sept. 25 to the secretaries of the Air Force, Navy and Army, is part of a new effort called "Project Restore," created by Dr. William Mayer, assistant defense secretary for health affairs.

He also has given commanders of military hospitals new flexibility to hire more civilian doctors to help treat dependents and retirees.

The new effort is the latest move to help put a lid on the cost of operating the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services. Known as CHAMPUS, the program twice went broke during the last fiscal year, spending an estimated $2.1 billion, compared with an original appropriation of $1.54 billion.

CHAMPUS is an insurance plan covering the cost of health care for military dependents and retirees when they use civilian facilities. An estimated 6.2 million people are eligible for this coverage.

Active-duty personnel are guaranteed medical treatment in military hospitals. Dependents and retirees are allowed to use the same hospitals if beds and doctors are available. However, when those are not available, the dependent or retiree must turn to the civilian facilities and rely on CHAMPUS.

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