Amidst all the 'craziness' - stability

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Burke
  • 21st Medical Group commander
Greetings fellow Knights! Before I get into my official commentary, I wanted to take a moment to wish Col. Jen Moore a fond farewell as she completes an exceptional command tour as the 21st Operations Group commander and PCSs to the east. She has been a great friend, confidante and a role-model leader. She and her team have amassed an amazing array of accomplishments around the globe and she has been a great neighbor! Jen, tally-ho, best of luck, thanks a bunch for all of the over-the-fence chats and rest well knowing that Toby is in good hands!

OK, now down to business. Our 21st Dental Squadron superintendent Chief "Mack" recently retired. He had a personal nomenclature for all the things that could potentially go wrong in a given situation which he referred to as "craziness." I never thought too much of it -- it was just one of his many chiefly mannerisms that we all grew to appreciate and now somewhat miss. Given the issues of late -- sequestration, potential furloughs, curtailment of tuition assistance, budget uncertainties, looming service cuts and many others -- I'd say we're all dealing with some craziness in our lives and I give chief full credit for the reference.

Yet, amidst the craziness lies some stability -- our healthcare benefits. For those of us who receive medical benefits through the TRICARE program, we can all rest-assured that the upcoming transition of our Managed Care Support Contractor from TriWest Healthcare Alliance to UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans will not add to the craziness. On the contrary, the transition is occurring quite smoothly and on April 1, UHC M&V will officially stand-up as the administrator of the TRICARE benefit in our TRICARE West Region.

As your 21st Medical Group commander, I am very pleased to report that the transition is occurring with remarkable efficiency and professionalism and, best yet, with all of us in mind. TriWest, our TRICARE teammate of 16 years, continues to provide top-notch healthcare services and has been a true partner with UHC in the transition. UHC has impressed from day-one of the transition process that began almost a year ago. They have hit all required major milestones in our market including signing contracts with more than 99 percent of the participating primary care providers currently with TriWest, and have established business partnerships with all of the local hospitals that currently accept TRICARE reimbursement. I expect our patients to experience very minor, if any, disruptions along the way.

Simultaneous with this transition, we are launching a new way for our patients to communicate with their provider teams. In late February, we began accepting applications from patients enrolled at the Peterson and Schriever Clinics to join a new confidential and secure messaging service called MiCare. MiCare enables a quick and secure means for patients to communicate with their provider teams. With MiCare, patients can request prescription renewals, receive laboratory results, ask non-urgent questions of their team and receive updates about referrals and authorizations. Also, in the near future, our patients will be able to request appointments via this new service. We're excited about this service and already have approximately 500 participants. You can visit us any time to enroll or wait until your next appointment. The enrollment process is simple and we look forward to you joining us in this endeavor.

Before I close, I wanted to share a team accolade on behalf of your Peterson/Schriever medics. In January, we received Level III Recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the delivery of care via our Patient-Centered Medical Home programs in our Family Health and Pediatrics Clinics. This is the highest possible recognition awarded by the NCQA and I'm thrilled to share the news with you. So what does it mean to our patients? Simply stated, it means that we are nationally recognized for our commitment to providing the best possible care for our patients -- and, we remain further committed to evolving with modern advances in our profession...taking care of you is our privilege.

As we all take on unfamiliar and emotionally challenging issues these next few months, let's look out for one another, be good friends, co-workers and wingmen. The road ahead clearly won't be easy. If you or your wingman needs support, don't hesitate -- reach out to one of the many support services available on base and in our community. Let's take it on as a team.

In closing, none of us know for sure where things will go regarding the daunting challenges listed above. I'm glad to report that the TRICARE benefit, although in major transition, remains a source of stability and I hope this provides you some comfort in the days ahead.