WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation that funds the military, provides servicemembers with pay raises, and reforms TRICARE, the health care system for servicemembers, reservists, and their family members.
“The NDAA reaffirms our nation’s commitment to fully funding our brave men and women in uniform and providing support to military families who already make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of our nation,” said Senator Tillis. “I’m pleased that my provisions to improve the rapid deployment capabilities of Fort Bragg, reform TRICARE, and close a loophole that will make it easier for military spouses to obtain employment were all included in the NDAA. When this bipartisan legislation lands on the President’s desk, he has an obligation to quickly sign it into law to send a clear message to the world that the leaders of the United States are united when it comes to supporting our troops and strengthening our military.”
The Senate version of the NDAA contains several provisions secured by Senator Tillis aimed at supporting North Carolina’s military installations and servicemembers, which include:
Advancing The Extension of The Pope Airfield Runway
To protect Fort Bragg’s rapid deployment capabilities, Tillis’ provision requires the Secretary of the Army, in coordination with the Commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, to submit a report to the Senate outlining plans to extend the runway at Pope Airfield and to indicate whether such project is a priority for the Army.
Currently, C-17 and C-5 airlifts cannot depart from Pope Airfield fully fueled with a full load of paratroopers due to the current 8,500 foot takeoff length of the runway. Fully loaded C-17s and C-5s require a takeoff length of 10,500 feet, and 11,500 feet, respectively.
Supporting Military Spouses By Helping Them Gain Federal Employment
Tillis’ provision would have an immediate impact on the quality of life for many military spouses and their families by closing the two-year time limit loophole for military spouses who receive a permanent change of station order and seek federal employment on the new base. Currently, a military spouse only has two years to invoke the military spouse preference from the date of the service member’s permanent change of station orders, which are issued well in advance of a military family arriving at a new duty station. Combined with the demands of raising children, adjusting to new surroundings, and the actual availability of federal jobs, many military spouses have missed consideration for employment or have had job offers withdrawn because they lost eligibility.
Reforming the TRICARE system by increasing collaboration between the military and private sector
- Establishment of high performance military-civilian integrated health delivery systems.
The Tillis provision would improve health outcomes and enhance the experience of care for beneficiaries as local military treatment facilities create strong relationships with private sector health systems to form integrated high performance health systems. These formal relationships would foster innovation in military treatment facilities, enhance operational medical force readiness, improve access to specialized medical care, and strengthen care coordination through integration of all activities of these new health delivery systems.
- Contracts with private sector entities to provide certain health care services at military treatment facilities.
The Tillis provision requires the Secretary of Defense to enter into centrally-managed, performance-based contracts with private sector entities to improve the delivery of health care services at military treatment facilities with limited or restricted ability to provide services such as primary care or expanded-hours urgent care. Contracts would be designed to purchase improvement in health outcomes for covered beneficiaries seeking health care services in military treatment facilities.
- Memoranda of agreements between the Department of Defense and institution of higher education that offer degrees in allopathic or osteopathic medicine.
By sharing training facilities, staffing, and material resources, these new academic affiliations could help improve and sustain operational medical force readiness and possibly serve as a productive recruiting grounds for new military physicians. The provision sets the stage for the Department of Defense and Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center to form a partnership with the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine.