From The American Prospect new blog post
Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, David Shulkin, has pledged not to privatize the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). He understands, he says, that the VHA’s ability to provide care that, as studies document, is superior to those in the private sector is because veterans are treated in an integrated system that meets all their health needs. In testimony to the House Committee on Appropriations Veterans Oversight Hearing on May 3, Shulkin argued that unlike the private sector, the VHA “defines health far more broadly as physical, psychological, social, and economic.” Such a “unique national resource … often cannot be found in the private sector.”
In spite of this some of Secretary Shulkin’s recent decisions are very troubling. In March, Shulkin announced that the VHA would begin providing emergency mental health services to veterans previously ineligible for them. While that coverage is long overdue, the VA’s budget will likely push some already enrolled patients out of the VHA system and onto private providers. At the same time, Shulkin has proposed outsourcing optometry and audiology care to the private sector. In both cases, the changes threaten to jeopardize the kind of integrated services the VHA provides. Read More
Yesterday, I spoke about my new book at a wonderful forum in San Francisco on “The Threats to Veterans Healthcare” with Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi. The session was sponsored by the Veterans Healthcare Action Campaign. Other speakers included Michael Blecker of Swords to Plowshares, veteran Edgar Escobar, and Major General Mike Myatt. Over two hundred people came to learn more about how they can participate in the fight against VHA privatization–as patients, VHA staff members, and as union activists. In fact, so many came that the room was over-flowing. In the comment period, veterans spoke out from the floor with amazing stories about the importance of VHA care. To learn more about these issues, please order my new book The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare and check out the website of Fighting for Veterans’ Healthcare, where you will find an excellent analysis of how Choice may dismantle the VA. For U.S. Representative Pelosi’s remarks and more on our panel, click here and to see the video of the event, here
New blog post in the BMJ
I recently saw the power of thank you highlighted on two different occasions in healthcare settings.
On the first, I was following a team of physicians who were conducting patient rounds on the acute care of the elderly unit at the San Francisco VA Health Care System (SFVAHCS), Fort Miley. The group moving from room to room included medical students and residents, as well as a pharmacist and a social worker. The nurse assigned to care for the particular patient the team visited did not travel with the group through the wards. Instead, as the team fanned out around a patient’s bed, the nurse assigned to that patient—who was almost always in some other patient’s room—would interrupt his or her work and rush in to join the rounds. Whenever a nurse joined the group, the attending physician, Kathryn Eubank, briefly stopped the discussion and thanked the nurse for coming to join them.
Eubank also made sure to ask the nurse if she or he had any concerns or input to share with the team. When the nurse expressed a concern or shared important information, the attending physician thanked the nurse for this input. And when the group was finished, the attending physician again thanked the nurse for joining the rounds. READ MORE
New blog post from The American Prospect
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill mulling legislation to extend a program that lets veterans seek health care in the private sector have revived their longstanding complaints about long wait times for care at the Veterans Health Administration facilities. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Dr. Baligh Yehia, the agency’s assistant under secretary, appeared before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to testify on HR 369, a bill that would allow the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act to continue past its sunset date of August 2017.
In 2014, after revelations of wait-time problems at some Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities, Congress created the three-year Choice program allowing eligible veterans to seek care in the private sector if they live 40 miles from a VHA facility or have to wait for more than 30 days for an appointment. The bill would let the VHA spend what remains of the initial $10 billion (about $1 billion) allocated to Choice on care in the private sector. READ MORE
If you care about the debates about healthcare, please watch this incredible video by this wonderful nurse. Truth in advertising, she just happens to be my daughter, Jessica Early.