About 3,000 military family members in Pierce and Thurston counties who get medical care at private hospitals will be compelled to start using clinics affiliated with Madigan Army Medical Center this year.
Right now, the active-duty families are using Tricare military health insurance to pay for care at private hospitals.
The Army wants them instead to attend new, underused clinics in Lacey, Puyallup and on the McChord Air Field side of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Letters announcing the change are starting to go out this week to families who will be assigned primary care doctors at the Madigan clinics. Their medical records also will transfer to the Army-run facilities.
“They do not have a choice, so what we’re doing is really trying to make an effort to reach out to them” to explain the changes, said Maj. Michael Henry, Madigan’s chief of managed care.
Madigan in the past two years opened community clinics in Puyallup and Lacey to provide services closer to patients who live outside JBLM.
Meanwhile, the number of patients using the main hospital at the base is declining as the Army carries out a force reduction plan, freeing capacity for families who have sought care out of the network.
Last year, Madigan had more than 102,000 patients enrolled for services. Now, the number is closer to 98,000.
Both the Lacey and Puyallup clinics can accommodate 8,125 patients. The Puyallup branch has about 7,100 patients enrolled while the one in Lacey has 6,100 enrollees.
The clinics have their own pharmacies, and Henry said patients using them have indicated they’ve been satisfied with the off-base medical services.
Active-duty military family members who live within a 30-minute drive of the clinics will get the notices assigning them new doctors over the next two months in batches. Henry said there is no deadline to complete the shift.
Henry said the Army Medical Command wants patients to come back to the military-run clinics so it can better track their medical needs and influence their health.
“We want them to be a part of the greater system,” he said.
People with questions about the change in primary-care services can call 253-968-0643, 968-3491, or 968-3348.
Patients who do not want to go to Army-run clinics because of specific medical concerns can file a waiver request online at www.mamc.amedd.army.mil.
Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646 firstname.lastname@example.org