Category: News

VA Proposes Physician Pay Increases, Begins Major Recruiting Campaign

VA Proposes Physician Pay Increases, Begins Major Recruiting Campaign

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – The maximum rates of annual pay for incoming VHA physicians and dentists would be increased as much as $35,000, under a VA proposal announced last month. The updated pay tables would allow physicians and dentists… Read More

VA IG: Wait-Time Manipulation Went Far Beyond VAMCs  in Headlines

VA IG: Wait-Time Manipulation Went Far Beyond VAMCs in Headlines

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – The problem of wait-time manipulation for patient appointments went far beyond facilities such as the Phoenix VAMC, which became the center of a nationwide controversy,  the VA acting general inspector told lawmakers last month. Acting… Read More

Veterans Appeals Delayed Months; Whistleblower Suggests Leadership Issues

Veterans Appeals Delayed Months; Whistleblower Suggests Leadership Issues

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A VA whistleblower told lawmakers last month that veterans’ cases waited hundreds of days for a final decision at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, even though some of them required nothing but a signature to… Read More

Male Breast Cancer at the VA Much Rarer Than the Female Disease, but More Deadly

Male Breast Cancer at the VA Much Rarer Than the Female Disease, but More Deadly

Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON – Men are diagnosed with less than 0.1% of all breast cancers, but for those unfortunate few, the disease extracts a high toll — and a 65% increase in mortality risk compared to women. The interpretation… Read More

Increasing Cancer Treatment Delays Have Plagued VAMCs for Nearly a Decade

Increasing Cancer Treatment Delays Have Plagued VAMCs for Nearly a Decade

Some Long Wait Times Attributable to Treatment Modalities Annette M. Boyle CHICAGO – The news media frenzy of the last six months might suggest otherwise, but concerns about delays in treatment for veterans are nothing new at the VA, especially… Read More

New White House Initiatives Seek to Reduce Military Suicide Rates, Improve Care

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – A revision in the VA drug formulary and an expansion of suicide prevention training were among 19 new executive actions announced recently by President Barack Obama to improve mental healthcare for troops and veterans. “So… Read More

After Lackland Bat Infestation, 200 Air Force Trainees Received Rabies Prophylaxis

After Lackland Bat Infestation, 200 Air Force Trainees Received Rabies Prophylaxis

SAN ANTONIO – The largest ever military investigation of rabies exposure involved more than 900 Air Force personnel interviewed and 200 receiving post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) at a cost of about $400,000.

New VA Secretary Moves Quickly to Remedy Access to Care Issues

New VA Secretary Moves Quickly to Remedy Access to Care Issues

WASHINGTON – VA Secretary Robert McDonald hit the ground running last month, reaffirming the message that VA could turn its challenges into an opportunity to do “what we could never have done otherwise.”

Telecare Program Effectively Manages Pain, Reduces Opioid Use in VA Patients

Telecare Program Effectively Manages Pain, Reduces Opioid Use in VA Patients

By Brenda L. Mooney INDIANAPOLIS  –  A yearlong VA telecare program to manage chronic pain due to arthritis or other musculoskeletal disorders not only doubled the likelihood of improvement for veterans in the intervention program but also demonstrated that patients… Read More

DoD Plays Role in Helping Contain Ebola Outbreak; Seeks a Cure

DoD Plays Role in Helping Contain Ebola Outbreak; Seeks a Cure

WASHINGTON – As the U.S. public health community desperately seeks to help contain what experts say is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa, DoD also is monitoring the situation closely and has created an internal task force to “further review the situation.”

DoD’s Slow Transfer of Service Records Contributes to VA Claims Backlog

DoD’s Slow Transfer of Service Records Contributes to VA Claims Backlog

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – While VA is under heavy pressure from lawmakers to reduce the claims backlog and process claims faster, the agency is not the only one to blame for these delays, according to the DoD Office of… Read More

Should Digoxin Be Prescribed for Atrial Fibrillation?

Should Digoxin Be Prescribed for Atrial Fibrillation?

VA Study Latest in Debate about Old Drug’s Safety By Brenda L. Mooney PALO ALTO, CA – A new study is calling into question the practice of treating atrial fibrillation with digoxin, finding that patients on the digitalis derivative were… Read More

Pesticides Plus Gene Variant Increase Parkinson’s Risk

LOS ANGELES – Exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, and certain gene variants may make some people even more susceptible to the disease, according to a new study. The research, published recently in the journal Neurology,… Read More

VA More Likely To Treat Geriatric Veterans with Older AEDs

DURHAM, NC – Despite the availability of newer therapies, phenytoin remains the most prescribed antiepileptic drug (AED) within the VHA, according to a recent study. Researchers from the Southeast Epilepsy Centers of Excellence at the Durham, NC, VAMC and Duke… Read More

VA Physicians Testify about Harsh Retaliation for Blowing Whistles on Care Issues

VA Physicians Testify about Harsh Retaliation for Blowing Whistles on Care Issues

WASHINGTON – Retaliation against physicians and other employees who voice complaints is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the agency, a senior VA official emphasized to lawmakers at a House hearing last month.

Bereaved Family Members of Suicide Victims Testify about VA Care Lapses

Bereaved Family Members of Suicide Victims Testify about VA Care Lapses

WASHINGTON – A parade of grieving family members testified last month before a House of Representatives committee trying to determine why significant increases in VA’s mental health and suicide prevention resources have not stemmed the tide of suicides

Are VA Benefits Processed More Efficiently? Congress Gets Conflicting Answers

Are VA Benefits Processed More Efficiently? Congress Gets Conflicting Answers

WASHINGTON – The work of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) was vehemently defended before lawmakers last month, with VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey testifying that the agency had reduced the claims backlog from a high of more than 600,000 last year to 271,000 as of last month.

New VA Secretary Robert McDonald Vows to Reform Healthcare Delivery

New VA Secretary Robert McDonald Vows to Reform Healthcare Delivery

WASHINGTON – Robert McDonald, the former Procter & Gamble president and CEO, was ushered in as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs last month with unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate and hopeful optimism from advocacy groups and others.

White House Review Calls for Restructuring of VHA

By Sandra Basu  WASHINGTON – The VHA needs to be “restructured and reformed” according to a scathing White House review released late last month. “The VHA leadership structure is marked by a lack of responsiveness and an inability to effectively… Read More

Review of Military Healthcare Ordered After Reports of  VA Treatment Failures

Review of Military Healthcare Ordered After Reports of VA Treatment Failures

WASHINGTON – A 90-day review of military health system facilities will look at a range of standards, comparing MHS performance with at least three civilian healthcare systems where standards are relevant and comparable.