PALLONE & HOLT REACT TO NEWS OF PENTAGON'S DECISION TO RESCIND PLAN TO DENY TRICARE PLUS SERVICES AT PATTERSON
Eatontown, NJ --- U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Rush Holt (NJ-12) today reacted to news that the U.S. Department of Defense has decided against denying services to TRICARE Plus beneficiaries at the Patterson Army Health Clinic (PAHC).
On August 15th, PAHC Commanding Officer Col. Don P. Speers sent a letter to more than 1,800 patients informing them that the clinic must scale back its services for TRICARE Plus beneficiaries due to staff reductions and budgetary limitations. According to the letter, TRICARE Plus beneficiaries would be forced to find a civilian primary care provider by October 15th.
Today's news comes one week after Pallone and Holt sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs William Winkenwerder, Jr. voicing their strong opposition to the decision and demanding a meeting with Pentagon officials to discuss possible alternatives.
"The Pentagon should be commended for rescinding this plan, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months to ensure Patterson remains open well beyond 2011 when Fort Monmouth is scheduled to close," Pallone said.
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Speers' August 15th letter completely contradicted a conversation Pallone and Holt had with top Pentagon officials just four days earlier about the future of Patterson. During an August 10th teleconference with Dr. Steve Jones, Col. John Morse and Capt. Ronald Forbus, the two New Jersey congressmen were assured that a number of options would be explored with the proper federal and state agencies prior to degradation of service at PAHC.
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"New Jersey military retirees should not be penalized now or in the future for the closure of Fort Monmouth," Pallone continued. "They rely on the Patterson clinic to provide them essential health care services that they were promised in service to our nation, and those services should be maintained at the current facility."