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Pay and retirement panel devoting much time to health care issues, spokesman says

Jun. 6, 2014 - 12:05PM   |  
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Fully one-third of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission’s work in the last year has focused on health care and examining ways to improve quality and access for all beneficiaries, according to a spokesman for the panel.

Jamie Graybeal, the commission’s public affairs associate director, said the nine-member panel has focused extensively on the military and veterans’ health systems, examining potential improvements for active-duty, reserve and National Guard members, veterans and families.

Members have traveled to military treatment facilities and Veterans Affairs medical centers as well as civilian hospitals to interview health care providers, administrators and beneficiaries, Graybeal said.

“We [also] have been working closely with many organizations here in Washington who advocate for military health care benefits,” Graybeal said.

In the coming months, the commission is polling service members, including reserve and National Guard troops, to weigh in on their pay and benefits package.

In an e-mail survey sent to thousands of troops, the commission is asking which pay and benefits personnel find most important. It aims to identify those that are highly valued and those which may be inefficient because their cost to the government exceeds their perceived value by troops.

The group plans to survey retired service members at a later date and also is soliciting comment on its public website.

The commission was established in early 2013 by Congress to study military retirement and compensation amid increasing concerns of rising military personnel costs.

It is expected to release its recommendations to the Defense Department and Congress by Feb. 1.

Graybeal said it’s fair to say that health care provisions will figure prominently in those recommendations.

“While it is premature to speculate on the specifics ... [the recommendations] are likely going to focus on ensuring all beneficiaries have greater access to health care, improving the quality of the services provided and protecting the medical readiness of the active, reserve and Nation Guard components,” Graybeal said.

Staff writer Andrew Tilghman contributed to this report.

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