Federal Health Care News
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MILITARY HEALTH CARE NEWS

10-20-2017

The Department of Defense announced that Air Force Maj. Gen. Dorothy A. Hogg has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general, and for assignment as surgeon general of the Air Force.  Hogg is currently serving as deputy surgeon general and chief of the Air Force Nurse Corps, Office of the Surgeon General.

 

 

Anticipating a future where genomically informed care is broadly available in the military, the US Air Force is studying the impact of incorporating data from exome sequencing into its service members' medical records.

The Air Force and the US Department of Defense "want to be right up on the cutting edge as our society hopefully moves toward personalized and precision medicine," said Robert Green, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who is co-leading the study called MilSeq.

The pilot study is an initial step toward broader implementation of genomic medicine in the Air Force. "The study’s goal is to determine how best to integrate medical genetics into military medicine.

The two-year study involves a number of institutions within the Air Force, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, VA Boston Healthcare System, Baylor College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio State University, Partners Personalized Medicine, and the Broad Institute.

MilSeq will enroll 75 healthy, active-duty Air Force service members at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, who consent to having their exomes sequenced. The study will also recruit 15 active duty healthcare providers in primary care, internal medicine and family practice.

The aim of MilSeq is to explore the process of presenting genomic information to providers and airmen, what they think of the consent process, why service members declined to participate, and if those reasons mirror civilians who decline to participate in genomics research.

MilSeq is a study within the Genomes2People Research Program. In these studies, the team has been exploring the medical, behavioral and economic impact of genetic risk information in various contexts.

Within MilSeq, doctors will receive an educational primer in genomics and on-site genetic counseling support. After exome testing is performed on patients, their doctors will get a report listing the pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants related to dominant and recessive monogenic conditions, risks for complex diseases, and response to drugs. These results will be entered into the service members' electronic medical record.

Afterwards, researchers will track how well doctors understood the genomic information and assessed their patients based on test results. They will also evaluate whether having this information in the active service members' records influences their behavior, health, life style and family members.

The Air Force's Medical Genetics Center serves as the reference genetics lab for the entire DoD and already conducts a wide variety of tests in house, including prenatal screening, assessments for genetic diseases, and next-generation sequencing panels for determining cancer risks and treatment options. The geneticists at the center lend their expertise to doctors in diagnosing patients, and recently launched an effort to provide tele-genetics services to personnel stationed in far-flung places around the world.

10-13-2017

On Oct. 11, 2017, TRICARE announced changes to the TRICARE program.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, TRICARE benefits will transition from a fiscal year Oct. 1 - Sept. 30 period to a calendar year period. Changing from fiscal year to calendar year makes the TRICARE benefit consistent with civilian health plans. The change will largely affect those plans, which have an enrollment fee and are currently billed by the fiscal year. This includes retirees and their family members in TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Retired Reserve, TRICARE Reserve Select and those in TRICARE Young Adult plans. This change is one of several changes that TRICARE is adopting in 2018.

Enrollment Fees

Enrollment fees apply to retirees and their family members enrolled in TRICARE Prime, those enrolled in

During this transition period (Oct. 1- Dec. 31, 2017), enrollment fees will be prorated and billed accordingly for enrollees who pay on a monthly or quarterly basis. If a beneficiary pays enrollment fees on an annual basis, you’ll be billed for the fees to cover the three-month period and sent a billing notice for the annual fee for calendar year 2018.

Catastrophic Caps and Deductibles

TRICARE will extend payments (for example, catastrophic caps and deductibles) that usually reset on Oct. 1 through the end of the calendar year. Any enrollment fees paid during the transition period will continue to count against the catastrophic cap until it resets on Jan. 1, 2018. This means that if the beneficiary reaches their fiscal year 2017 catastrophic cap, they will not have additional out-of-pocket costs for authorized TRICARE-covered services for the last three months of the year. On Jan. 1, 2018, new rules for deductibles and catastrophic caps will apply to some costs.

Visit the TRICARE Changes page to learn more about the upcoming changes to your benefit. You can also stay in the know by signing up for our email updates

10-06-2017

The Navy deployed Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort on Sept. 29, 2017, to support of the U.S. military response to the hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. 

Approximately 250 doctors, nurses, corpsmen and support personnel from across Navy Medicine East will be joined by an additional wave of personnel reaching 750 personnel in total. This will complete the medical manning needs to support the 250-bed ship capability specific to this mission as defined by the Department of Defense. 

NME’s ability to rapidly augment medical and support personnel needed for a hospital ship deployment within 96 hours underscores Navy Medicine’s role as a medical readiness platform in support of the Navy and Marine Corps missions. Based on the nature of the medical mission, NME relies on medical personnel across its region spanning the eastern hemisphere. 

For this particular mission, the medical personnel are coming from 11 different facilities, from Pensacola to North Carolina – the bulk from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Along with key medical personnel, ranging from pediatricians and surgeons to nurse practitioners and surgical technicians, the mix of personnel critical to support this relief mission includes experts in areas such as culinary services, administration, materials management, medical equipment repair and information technology. 

“We are a ready medical force,” said Navy Rear Adm. Anne Swap, NME commander. “The expeditionary nature of Navy Medicine uniquely positions us to deliver care on, above, below the sea and on battlefields, which includes responding when called upon to provide humanitarian assistance.” 

NME is headquartered in Portsmouth, Va., and serves as Navy Medicine’s health care system in the eastern hemisphere, providing medical care to approximately 1 million patients throughout the eastern United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. NME also oversees the Tidewater Military Health System, which brings together McDonald Army Health Center, NMCP and U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley.. 

Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 personnel that provide health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.

 

ASPiRA Labs, a Vermillion company, announced it has entered into an in-network contract agreement with HealthNet Federal Services, effective Jan. 1, 2018.  

This contract brings total TRICARE coverage for ASPiRA Labs to over 9.4 million lives.

As previously announced in March 2017, the company entered into an agreement with Humana Military for coverage of the TRICARE South Region. TRICARE is restructuring its three regions into two regions. On January 1, 2018, the former North and South Regions will become the new East Region, and the West Region will remain the same.  Accordingly, as of January 1, 2018, ASPiRA Labs will be contracted in both TRICARE regions (West and East). 

"We believe Vermillion is well positioned to continue to expand coverage and increase access to OVA1 (MIA) for women with a pelvic mass, helping to ensure optimal care for more patients,” said Fred Ferrara, chief operating officer of Vermillion, Inc We continue to execute on our managed care strategy in 2017, gaining momentum and positively impacting access for women nationwide."

The mortality rate of ovarian cancer has not changed in 40 years, even following the introduction of the CA125 biomarker. Today, two thirds of women with ovarian cancer do not receive the appropriate treatment course.

OVA1 (MIA) demonstrates reduced false negative rates for earlier and improved detection of ovarian cancer.  Links to multiple clinical studies showing OVA1 (MIA)'s strong performance over CA125 and ROMA with ovarian cancer can be found on our website:  http://vermillion.com/providers/ova-1/clinical-validation-studies/.

 

09-29-2017

The Department of Defense announced an Interim Final Rule implementing portions of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017. 

The transition goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

The rule implements TRICARE Select -- the new preferred provider organization-style benefit established by congress that incorporates TRICARE standard and TRICARE extra. Beneficiaries in Prime will automatically be enrolled in Prime or automatically be enrolled in Select if they are enrolled in Standard or Extra,” she said.

The agency will establish an annual open season enrollment period that beneficiaries can participate in each year to choose their health care plans. The open season will run much like the Federal Employee Health Benefit program works and will be held at the same time.

The rule also outlines the rules for qualifying “life events” that allow beneficiaries to make changes that need to occur outside the open season. Qualifying life events trigger a 90-day opportunity to enroll in or change TRICARE purchased care coverage for the rest of the calendar year. These include changes to marital status, births, adoptions, changes in service status, and so on.

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the DoD’s health care plan will be administered on a calendar year basis to streamline the combined changes mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act and the new contracts for beneficiaries.

Included in the rule for TRICARE Prime beneficiaries are new requirements for timely appointments and new access to care. For Select beneficiaries seeking care within the broader network, it offers access to no cost preventive services now available to Prime enrollees.  Instead of paying percentage of the bill as a cost share, the new rule will set a fixed dollar amount.

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