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VIP health system for top US officials risked jeopardizing care for rank-and-file soldiers

March 6, 2024

David Hilzenrath

USA Today

This file photo shows the Pentagon in Washington in 2008. Charles Dharapak, AP

Top U.S. officials in the Washington area have received preferential treatment from a little-known health care program run by the military, potentially jeopardizing care for other patients including active-duty service members, according to Pentagon investigators.

White House officials, senior military and other national security leaders, retired military officers, and family members have all benefited. The Washington elite could jump the line when filling prescriptions, book appointments through special call centers, and receive choice parking spots and escorts at military hospitals and other facilities, including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, according to the Pentagon’s inspector general.

Through a unit at the White House, government personnel were routinely allowed to receive treatment under aliases, providing no home address or insurance information. For some of them, the care was free, as Walter Reed had no way to bill for it or waived charges.

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