News

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

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

Enhanced Screening Seeks to Prevent Military Suicides

Enhanced Screening Seeks to Prevent Military Suicides

Is it possible to prevent military suicide by regularly monitoring troops’ resilience, just as their physical fitness is now measured?

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.

MD Lawmakers Urge VA to Hire Scribes to Increase Physician Efficiency

MD Lawmakers Urge VA to Hire Scribes to Increase Physician Efficiency

With medical staff often overwhelmed by documentation and data-entry requirements, VA should use medical scribes more widely across its system, two physician lawmakers recently urged.

DoD, VA Scolded Again for EHR Interoperability Delays

DoD, VA Scolded Again for EHR Interoperability Delays

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — DoD informed Congress last month that it has met key interoperability requirements set forth in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. DoD Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendell wrote in a… Read More

Electronic Triggers Speed up Follow-up for Cancer Diagnosis, Care at Houston VAMC

Electronic Triggers Speed up Follow-up for Cancer Diagnosis, Care at Houston VAMC

By Brenda L. Mooney HOUSTON — Over the last years, the VA has struggled with ways to reduce follow-up delays for patients, such as those being evaluated for cancer. Researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC and Baylor College of… Read More

Common Dementia Drugs Linked To Dangerous Weight Loss in Veterans

Common Dementia Drugs Linked To Dangerous Weight Loss in Veterans

By Brenda L. Mooney SAN FRANCISCO – New research on cholinesterase inhibitors is reducing the already limited options VA clinicians have to treat VA patients with dementia. More than a half-million veterans have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia, with most… Read More

VHA Review Suggests BRAC-Like Commission on Closing Facilities

VHA Review Suggests BRAC-Like Commission on Closing Facilities

Asks If Only Service-Related Conditions Should Be Treated By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—The VA should consider establishing a board or commission similar to the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to address policy issues like hospital closures in an “objective… Read More

VA: Disability Claims Backlog Reduced to Lowest Ever

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—Calling it a “historic milestone,” the VA announced last month that it has reduced the disability claims backlog to the lowest it has ever been.  As of last month, the claims backlog stood at 98,535 — an… Read More

Contracted Program for Timely VA Healthcare Also Plagued by Delays

Contracted Program for Timely VA Healthcare Also Plagued by Delays

A program designed to provide timely healthcare to veterans outside of VA is itself hampered by delays in care, according to a new report from the VA Office of Inspector General.

Faced with Shortfall, VA Gets Flexibility to Pay for HCV, Outside Care

Faced with Shortfall, VA Gets Flexibility to Pay for HCV, Outside Care

After VA officials warned that hospital shutdowns or staff furloughs might be necessary without more budgetary flexibility, lawmakers rushed through legislation to ensure that would not occur.

Bills Propose More Leeway to Discipline VA Staff

Bills Propose More Leeway to Discipline VA Staff

Healthcare Employees Targeted in Some Versions By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — A bill recently passed by the House of Representatives would make it easier for VA to demote or fire employees beyond the senior executive service (SES) level, including healthcare… Read More

Caution Urged in Prescribing Benzodiazepines to Veterans Using Opioids

Caution Urged in Prescribing Benzodiazepines to Veterans Using Opioids

Researchers are urging VA clinicians to be cautious about prescribing benzodiazepines to veterans already taking opioid painkillers.

That’s in light of a new study, published online recently by the British Medical Journal, finding that nearly half of all veterans who died from drug overdoses while on opioids were also receiving higher doses of benzodiazepines, often used for anxiety, insomnia or alcohol withdrawal.

Study: Alzheimer’s Disease Blood Test Would Be Feasible

LOS ANGELES — A new study provides the first evidence that a simple blood test could be developed to confirm the presence of beta amyloid proteins in the brain, which could help in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. No reliable… Read More

Air Force Recruits Show Reduced Levels of Immunity to Common Diseases

Air Force Recruits Show Reduced Levels of Immunity to Common Diseases

Lower immunization rates have increased the number of U.S. outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, even of those considered eradicated in this country, such as measles.

Medication, Surgery Combat Biological Changes Associated with Obesity

Medication, Surgery Combat Biological Changes Associated with Obesity

Overweight and Sustained Obesity Require Different Approaches By Annette M. Boyle PROVIDENCE, RI — Eat less, move more has long been the mantra for weight loss. But new research indicates the mainstays of diet and exercise simply aren’t enough for… Read More

David Shulkin, MD, Confirmed as New VA  Under Secretary for of Health

David Shulkin, MD, Confirmed as New VA Under Secretary for of Health

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — The VA is set to welcome a new leader to the Veterans Health Administration. David Shulkin, MD, became the new VA undersecretary of health after the Senate confirmed his nomination by voice vote late last… Read More

Vendors: VA Payment to Outside Providers Increasingly Delayed

Vendors: VA Payment to Outside Providers Increasingly Delayed

Veterans’ Credit Ratings Could Be Jeopardized By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — The VA is taking too long to reimburse non-VA healthcare providers, a problem that could result in veterans being billed for the services, panelists told a House of Representatives… Read More

VA’s Prescription Management Practices Come Under Fire From Legislators

VA’s Prescription Management Practices Come Under Fire From Legislators

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Lawmakers charged that the VA is not doing enough to ensure that medication use is properly managed among veterans — particularly those already struggling with mental health issues. VA officials were questioned on prescription mismanagement… Read More