Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

High Cost of Paperless Benefits System Questioned

High Cost of Paperless Benefits System Questioned

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) officials recently defended cost increases related to development of the paperless claims processing system Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS). “Scope and cost increases were planned, essential and approved to move beyond… Read More

Senators Emphasize Priorities for VA IG Nominee

Senators Emphasize Priorities for VA IG Nominee

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Michael Missal told lawmakers that, if he becomes the next VA Inspector General, one of his goals will be to work “to promote an improved environment” for whistleblowers. “I will also take the necessary steps… Read More

VA, DoD Adopting Earlier HIV Treatment to Dramatically Reduce AIDS Risk

VA, DoD Adopting Earlier HIV Treatment to Dramatically Reduce AIDS Risk

Pre-infection Immunological Health Achieved in Some Cases By Annette M. Boyle SAN ANTONIO — For years, clinicians have not recommended treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients with antiretroviral therapy (ART) before they saw a significant drop in T-cell levels. Starting… Read More

Hospitals’ Routine Use of PPIs Increases Risk of Inpatient Pneumonia, C. Diff

Hospitals’ Routine Use of PPIs Increases Risk of Inpatient Pneumonia, C. Diff

VA Researchers Recommend Against the Practice in Most Cases By Brenda L. Mooney ANN ARBOR, MI — In a case where the preventive measure might be worse than the avoided outcome, hospitals at the VHA and elsewhere often routinely provide… Read More

GAO Report Urges Clarification on VHA, DoD Drug Transition Policy

GAO Report Urges Clarification on VHA, DoD Drug Transition Policy

Last year, a new policy instructed VHA providers not to discontinue mental health medications initiated by DoD providers due to formulary differences.

Barriers to Study, Use of Marijuana for Epilepsy Treatment Continue to Fall

Barriers to Study, Use of Marijuana for Epilepsy Treatment Continue to Fall

In the last few months, several federal agencies and Congress have taken steps to eliminate obstacles to the study and potential use of marijuana for veterans with epilepsy and other conditions.

Guidelines Offer No Set Recommendations for How to Deal with First Seizures

Guidelines Offer No Set Recommendations for How to Deal with First Seizures

While veterans and servicemembers who have experienced a single unprovoked seizure and the clinicians who treat them would like clear, consistent next steps, new guidelines take them into solidly gray areas.

About 15,000 Vets Eligible for Camp Lejeune Benefits

About 15,000 Vets Eligible for Camp Lejeune Benefits

‘Presumptive’ Process Expected to Take a Year By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — About 15,000 veterans would be eligible for expanded disability compensation because of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, NC, between August 1953 and December of 1987, change… Read More

What Factors Increase Post-Surgical C. Diff Risk at VHA?

New Research Uncovers Some Clues to Aid Prevention By Brenda L. Mooney WASHINGTON — As the VHA works to reduce the overall post-operative rate of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), important new research has uncovered some clues to the circumstances that… Read More

VA CABG Patients Increasingly Older, Sicker

Over a 14-year period, VA patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) were progressively older and sicker, with an increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes, left main coronary artery disease and advanced heart failure, according to a new study.

Rates of BRCA Testing for Veterans Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

In 2012, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of leading cancer care centers, recommended that women with breast cancer be offered BRCA1/BRCA2 testing if they were 45 or younger or 50 or younger with a family history or an additional primary case.

VA Revises Veterans Choice Program to Improve Access

Rules for veterans receiving non-VA care through the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) were relaxed recently, and, while some members of Congress applauded the changes, others argued VA still had not done enough to repair the troubled program.

Changes in Veterans Choice Program

Under the old policy, a veteran was eligible for the Veterans Choice Program if he or she met the following criteria.

Veterans with Schizophrenia, Other Serious Mental Illness Less Likely to Have Surgery

Veterans with Schizophrenia, Other Serious Mental Illness Less Likely to Have Surgery

For veterans with serious mental illness, high rates of multiple comorbidities and poor care would seem to create situations that increase the need for surgery, but a recent study indicates that these veterans are significantly less likely to have surgery than their peers without serious mental illness.

Pharmacist Calls to Cognitively Impaired Veterans Lowers Readmissions

Pharmacist Calls to Cognitively Impaired Veterans Lowers Readmissions

By Annette M. Boyle BOSTON — For many older veterans, the transition from hospital to home can create confusion about which medications to take when. For veterans with cognitive impairment, the challenge increases — and so does the risk of… Read More

House Committee, VA Debate Link Between Discipline, Accountability

House Committee, VA Debate Link Between Discipline, Accountability

True accountability can’t be achieved by simply firing individuals who fall short in upholding VA policies, Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson told lawmakers recently.

Making the Diagnosis: PTSD With Psychosis, Schizophrenia or Both?

The psychotic symptoms associated with schizophrenia appear in a significant number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, raising the following question: Do these patients have a subtype of PTSD, comorbid schizophrenia or prodromal schizophrenia?

Opioid-Related Death at Tomah VA Leads to Legislation

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Legislation that was created in response to the death of a veteran at the Tomah, WI, VAMC would help provide safer and more effective pain management for patients, supporters said. The Senate bill, the Jason… Read More

VA Questioned on Handling of Presumptive Status for Toxic Exposures

VA Questioned on Handling of Presumptive Status for Toxic Exposures

Senators questioned VA on how it is determining presumptive status for veterans with conditions liked to topic exposures and pressed the agency to move quickly to ensure veterans receive benefits.

Cirrhosis Expected to Peak by 2021 in VA; Liver Cancer Epidemic Continues

Cirrhosis Expected to Peak by 2021 in VA; Liver Cancer Epidemic Continues

For the VA, the combination of effective treatment options and much lower prevalence of HCV in younger veterans may offer a light at the end of the tunnel — and a turning point in the steady rise of HCV-associated complications such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in only a few years.