VHA Still in Trouble Because of Trump’s Hiring Freeze

As I write in this new blog in The American Prospect, Trump’s hiring freeze is hurting the VHA in spite of exemptions.

Hiring Freeze Spares Some at VA, But Shortages Still Loom

But veterans who rely on the VA for benefits, pensions, compensation, and health care are still in big trouble. Chronic staff shortages and underfunding have been at the heart of a VA crisis centered on long wait times for care. Though doctors, nurses, and certain other essential health-care professionals and support staff have been exempted from the freeze, that still leaves the VA with a multitude of vacancies that will hamper its ability to deliver high-quality care.

To be sure, the recent exemptions have led some who are worried about the VA’s future to breathe a sigh of relief. When Trump announced his blanket federal hiring freeze, it did not exempt anyone at the VA. That led lawmakers and veterans’ advocates to protest that the freeze would cripple the VHA. In response, acting VA Secretary Robert D. Snyder sent out a memorandum on January 27 exempting doctors, nurses, and other health-care professionals and clinical support staff from the freeze. 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.

What Real Choice Looks Like for Veterans Health

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has just put out another great video on solutions that could strengthen VHA health care.  Please click, like, and share this wonderful video that helps us understand the pitfalls of Choice as it is currently constructed by conservatives who only want to dismantle the VHA.  Please click here to see the video.  And watch all the othersindex if you can.  It’s very important to add to the clicks on this and also the likes on this amazing series.

 

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

Veterans Health Is Really Good

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Studies Show Veterans Health Care Improving

When the House Veterans Affairs Committee holds a hearing on September 7 to assess the future of the Veterans Health Administration, federal lawmakers would do well to consider recent reports that challenge the continual drumbeat of negative and often unfair coverage and congressional criticism of the VHA.

One report, from the RAND Corporation, said that while there were differences in care and leadership culture across the system, researchers “did not find evidence of a system-wide crisis in access to VA care.” In fact, the report identified congressional policies as one of the main barriers to VHA improvements (despite the Veteran Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller’s apparent belief that firing VHA leaders is the solution to any access problems). The report noted that “inflexibility in budgeting stem[med] from the congressional appropriation processes,” and concluded that the hastily designed and implemented Veterans Choice Program, “further complicated the situation and resulted in confusion among veterans, VA employees, and non-VA providers.”

Though it received no media attention, another positive report on the VHA came this month from the Joint Commission, the independent nonprofit that accredits U.S. hospitals and health-care organizations. After surveying the VHA between 2014 and 2015, the commission found improvements in access, timeliness, and coordination of care, as well as in leadership, safety, staffing, and competency.  Read More.