Sequestration’s Impact on Defense Health

The defense health program is expected to absorb 7.95 percent, or $3.2 billion, of the Defense Department’s portion of the sequestration cuts in Fiscal 2013, said Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on April 24, he said about half of that shortfall would be in the accounts that DOD uses to reimburse Tricare claims. “Our challenge is to find money from other areas to ensure that we have the ability to pay those claims,” he said. To fill the health funding gap, the department is reducing funding in areas including health-related equipment, research and development, medical facility maintenance, and restoration and modernization, he said. “This will produce significant, negative long-term effects on the overall Military Health System,” stated Woodson in prepared remarks. Despite the difficulties in managing the sequester cuts, Woodson wrote that wounded warriors “should see no difference in the care they receive,” and “to the greatest extent possible, we will work to sustain access to our military hospitals and clinics for our service members, their families, retirees, and their families.”