DOD says medical pilot is not affected by TriWest thefts

The theft last month of computer equipment containing information on more than 500,000 military members poses no threat to the Composite Health Care System II, the Defense Department's pilot computerized medical system still in development, a Defense health official said yesterday.

The computers were stolen from a TriWest Healthcare Alliance office in Phoenix on Dec. 14. TriWest provides managed health care to 1.1 million military personnel and their families in 16 states for DOD's health care service, known as the Tricare Management Activity.

But Tricare is not part of CHCS II, the official said.

'There is no relationship between those two (systems),' said Dr. William Winkenwerder, Jr., assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs. Furthermore, Winkenwerder said, CHCS II information is stored at 'very secure sites' and that DOD had implemented steps to increase CHCS II security.

CHCS II eventually will store the records of more than 8.5 million military personnel and their families, allowing doctors to retrieve medical histories on their patients. Defense has approved use of CHCS II at seven military hospitals across the country.

The thefts at TriWest are still unsolved, and a $100,000 reward has been posted for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the thieves.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact law enforcement authorities at 800-343-TIPS.

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