Deputy rates TRICARE ‘C+ or B-’

By Tom Philpott: PNT columnist

Too many beneficiaries of the military direct-care health system still can’t get timely appointments, or reach doctors after hours, or establish a close family-doctor relationship with a single military physician or group.

For these reasons and more , Army Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Elder Granger, deputy director of TRICARE and a principal advisor within the Department of Defense on health policy and performance, gave the military health system an overall grade of “C plus or B minus” in an interview with Military Update.

In fiscal 2008, the number of civilian providers accepting TRICARE patients grew by 115,000 to reach 1.1 million nationwide.

Users of military hospital and clinics, he said, too often face telephone busy signals in trying to make appointments. He wants more consistency in administrative support, from how phones are answered to how appointments are booked, from how providers are reached after hours to how health readiness is tracked and preventive care services are offered.

“How do you get to your primary care provider after hours?