Category: News

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.

Corporate Executive Tapped to Head VA, Help Restore Veterans’ Trust

Corporate Executive Tapped to Head VA, Help Restore Veterans’ Trust

WASHINGTON – Robert A. “Bob” McDonald, a West Point graduate who served as chief executive of Procter & Gamble, was nominated last month as secretary of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs and was expected to be approved by the Senate.

VA Treats Schizophrenia More Consistently Than Other Healthcare Systems

VA Treats Schizophrenia More Consistently Than Other Healthcare Systems

By Annette M. Boyle TEMPLE, TX – While taking antipsychotic medication often benefits patients, evidence increasingly challenges the assumption that more is better, even as the rate of prescriptions for multiple antipsychotics continues to rise in the VA and other… Read More

Nearly 65% of VA Execs Got Bonuses Despite Long Waits for Veteran Care

Nearly 65% of VA Execs Got Bonuses Despite Long Waits for Veteran Care

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – How could nearly 65% of VA senior executives have received performance awards in fiscal year 2013, while the healthcare system was engaging in widespread misconduct related to waiting lists for treatment?                       That is what… Read More

Clinicians Can Play Critical Role in Getting VA Care Back on Track

Clinicians Can Play Critical Role in Getting VA Care Back on Track

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – As a general internist at the Boston VA, Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, believes that the voices of VA physicians are of critical importance in shaping veterans’ care in the future. “Now that we are getting a much… Read More

Stroke Kills Young American Indian/Alaska Natives at Twice Rate of Whites

Stroke Kills Young American Indian/Alaska Natives at Twice Rate of Whites

By Annette M. Boyle ATLANTA – While three-quarters of stroke patients are older than 65, a “brain attack” can affect people of any age. For young American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN), that information is especially significant because they have… Read More

DoD Seeks to Revise Alcohol Policies To Help Address Sexual Assaults

DoD Seeks to Revise Alcohol Policies To Help Address Sexual Assaults

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – In a stepped-up effort to address sexual assaults after a 50% increase in reports over one year, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered the military departments to review and revise their alcohol policies to protect potential victims.… Read More

Advisory Group: Exposures, Not Stress Caused Gulf War Illness

Advisory Group: Exposures, Not Stress Caused Gulf War Illness

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON – Exposures to pesticides and pyridostigmine bromide are causally associated with Gulf War illness, according to a new report which also said evidence continues to demonstrate that Gulf War illness is not the result of psychological… Read More

Repeat Colonoscopy Recommendations Usually Meet Guidelines

ANN ARBOR, MI – Physician endoscopists’ recommendations for timing of surveillance colonoscopy in average-risk patients with one to two small polyps are consistent with guideline recommendations in about 90% of cases, according to a new study. The study, which was… Read More

High MS Rates in Veterans: Don’t Blame the First Gulf War Zone

High MS Rates in Veterans: Don’t Blame the First Gulf War Zone

Military personnel serving during the first Gulf War have one of the highest incidence rates for multiple sclerosis (MS) ever reported, leading to speculation that environmental exposures in the war zone triggered the disease. Research trying to determine causes, however,… Read More

GAO Report: VA Plagued by ‘Poor Inventory Management’ of Tissue Products

GAO Report: VA Plagued by ‘Poor Inventory Management’ of Tissue Products

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — VA policies do not require staff to check the Food and Drug Administration status of its tissue vendors for most types of purchases, even though FDA registration ensures the quality of the provider. That was… Read More

VA Launches New Initiative to Recognize, Respond to Intimate Partner Violence

VA Launches New Initiative to Recognize, Respond to Intimate Partner Violence

Domestic Abuse Tied to Range of Health Issues By Annette M. Boyle BOSTON — Nearly 2 in 5 female veterans report experiencing intimate partner violence, as do up to 44% of active-duty women. The high rates of domestic abuse have… Read More

VA Care Delays Implicated in Veteran Fatalities; Lawmakers Express Anger

VA Care Delays Implicated in Veteran Fatalities; Lawmakers Express Anger

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — Veterans have died from delayed or never delivered medical care at VA facilities, according to lawmakers who accused the agency of not addressing the problems in a transparent way. “When errors do occur, and they… Read More

Privacy Laws Prevent Commanders’ Awareness of Potentially Violent Servicemembers

Privacy Laws Prevent Commanders’ Awareness of Potentially Violent Servicemembers

WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of a mass shooting at Fort Hood, TX, last month, questions were once again being raised about how effectively the military can identify servicemembers with mental health issues who are prone to violence.

Distance from VA Transplant Centers Affects Survival Rates for Liver Patients

Distance from VA Transplant Centers Affects Survival Rates for Liver Patients

PHILADELPHIA — Where they live can be a life or death issue for veterans who have been deemed eligible for liver transplants, according to new research.

Congress Frustrated About Slow Progress Toward DoD/VA Shared Health Data

Congress Frustrated About Slow Progress Toward DoD/VA Shared Health Data

WASHINGTON — Slow progress by the DoD and VA in achieving the seamless sharing of standardized health data continues to frustrate members of Congress.

VA Notes Major Demographic, Technological Trends in Strategic Document

VA Notes Major Demographic, Technological Trends in Strategic Document

WASHINGTON — The VA is facing a tide of demographic and technological changes that will affect the way it will provide care in the next decades.