If You Think VA Wait Times Are Long, Try the Private Sector

BATTLE FOR VETERANS HEALTHCARE SG COVER (1)New blog post from The American Prospect

Congress Determined To Keep Private Sector In Vets’ Heath Care

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

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Silencing Employees? Is that Good for Patient Safety at the VHA?

From Beyond Chron

New Threats to Patient Safety at the VHA

by Suzanne Gordon on March 9, 2017

VA Hospital in Washington DC

VA Hospital in Washington DC

Ever since a physician at the Phoenix VA Health Care System reported that Veterans Health Administration (VHA) administrators had been gaming data on wait times for patient appointments, VA whistleblowers have been embraced on Capitol Hill. There may be disagreement in Washington about the future of the VHA, but there is bi-partisan agreement that VHA employees should be supported and rewarded when they act to protect their patients.

Unfortunately, not enough legislators and veterans advocates understand that acting to create real patient safety involves far more than being a traditional whistleblower, which, as Webster’s dictionary explains, is “one who reveals something covert or who informs against another.” Or as the Federal Whistleblower Protection Act defines it, involves reporting a “violation of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.” 

As an extensive literature on patient safety documents, patient safety depends not primarily on the acts of heroic whistleblowers, but on the creation of a workplace environment where you don’t have to be a hero to voice concerns or criticisms, share insights, and make suggestions for change on a daily basis. READ MORE

Trump Pick Could Help VA

This was just published on the Washington Monthly Site.  It’s a great piece by a Vietnam combat veteran who was also a psychologist at the VHA for many years.  Well worth the read.

VApicTrump’s Pick for VA Secretary Could Continue Obama’s Progress by Edgardo Padin-Rivera

January 20, 2017.

New York Times and Fake News about the VA

1024px-va_hospital_waco_2013Phillip Longman, author of Best Care Anywhere, has just done this excellent post in The Washington Monthly about the New York Times coverage of the VHA.  People should contact the New York Times’s public editor to register their concerns about the continual bias in the Times coverage of the VHA.  See also my stories in The American Prospect on this issue.

Please read Longman’s story.  It is very important.

More Fake News about VA Hospitals

This time, the hapless New York Times is the culprit.

Donald Trump met with the heads of several monopolistic private health care corporations in Palm Beach on Wednesday. Bloomberg reports that “A person close to Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter said he also participated.” Trump was soliciting their advice on whether he should force the Veterans Health Administration (VA) to outsource more of the care of our nation’s veterans to monopolistic health care corporations. The comic book executive at least had no apparent conflicts of interests.

America’s major veterans groups, including the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Paralyzed Veterans of America, which all strenuously oppose any moves to privatize the VA, were not invited. Stay tuned for the rest of the story.  READ MORE

Will Trump Deliver for Veterans

perspective0221magBased on this election, here is a new post from the American Prospect

Will Trump Deliver for Veterans?

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump repeated one key promise: to “Make America Great Again” by increasing the country’s military might and supporting its 24 million military veterans. After all, he promised to raise money for veterans and said he donated a million dollars out of his own pocket to veterans’ charities.

But Trump showed his true colors long before Election Day. He finally wrote a personal check to one veteran’s group but only after four months when reporters shamed him into doing so. Trump dissed mentally ill veterans for being weak. Most famously, he called Senator John McCain, who was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, a “loser” after being shot down in combat, badly injured, captured, and then abused as a prisoner of war. Nevertheless, many veterans voted for Trump by a large margin.

That’s no great start for “veterans affairs.” But the mistreatment of vets could go from rhetorical to real. That’s because Trump favors some form of privatization of all Veterans Health Administration services, a long sought-after goal of congressional Republicans.  READ MORE