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Agencies



Current Issue

VA Reverses Stance, Won’t Challenge ‘Blue Water’ Veteran Court Ruling

WASHINGTON—In an about-face, the VA will recommend that the federal government not challenge a recent court decision ruling that the department cannot deny benefits to Vietnam-era Blue Water Navy veterans claiming Agent Orange exposure. The... View Article

April 2019

VA Continues Efforts to Reduce Drug Diversion; Focuses on Opiates

WASHINGTON—In the past two years, the VA has implemented a nine-step process to minimize drug diversion, but cases continue to slip through. In December 2018, the VA’s Office of the Inspector General reported two instances... View Article

April 2019

VA Struggles to Overcome Women’s Healthcare Disparities

WASHINGTON—VA is straining its capacity and struggling against a culture that can sometimes be hostile to women as it responds to what VA officials consider a “tsunami wave of women veterans” over the last decade.... View Article

April 2019

VA Researcher Seeks to Include Veterans’ Voices in Healthcare Decisions

SEATTLE—It’s a big job to ensure that VA’s healthcare system is equipped to provide the best possible care to veterans. It might be an even bigger job to make sure that veterans across the country... View Article

April 2019

House Committee Looks at Influence Trump Friends Have Had on VA

WASHINGTON—Three months into the new Democrat-led Congress, legislators are continuing to press VA on possible misconduct by high-level VA employees and consultants. That includes expanding the investigation into VA’s relationship with civilian advisers conducting meetings... View Article

Current Issue

VA Announces Proposed Standards for Access to Mission Act Outside Care

WASHINGTON—VA has released its proposed new access standards, defining new eligibility criteria for veterans seeking care by non-VA providers. The standards are part of the VA MISSION Act signed into law in June 2018, and... View Article

Current Issue

VA Announces New Partnerships to Expand Telehealth Services

WASHINGTON.—VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced new partnerships with several prominent companies and veterans’ organizations to make access to health services easier for veterans, regardless of their location. Collaborators announced at the recent Anywhere to Anywhere,... View Article

Current Issue

VA Fails to Use All Outreach Resources to Combat Veteran Suicide

Despite declaring veteran suicide as its No. 1 clinical priority, VA’s suicide prevention outreach efforts dropped off in 2017 and 2018, and a lack of clear goals and inconsistent leadership has impacted its success, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Current Issue

Disabled Veteran Helps Others Like Her Get Back Into the Workforce

Ten years ago, Coniece Washington was walking through the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center when she saw a job notice tacked to a board: certified rehabilitation counselor.

Current Issue

Senate Blocks Agent Orange Exposure Extension to Blue Water Veterans

Blue Water Navy veterans who claim to be impacted by toxic exposure while serving off the coast of Vietnam were forced to grapple with disappointment once again as the 115th Congress ended without passing legislation addressing their VA benefits.

Current Issue

VA: Oversight Improving for Questionable Contracted Disability Exams

A recent audit by the Government Accountability Office has lawmakers and veterans service organizations frustrated with the Veterans Benefits Administration’s inability to track the quality of work done by outside contractors and concerned that veterans have not been receiving accurate disability ratings.

Current Issue

VA ‘On Track’ for Appeals Reform; GAO Questions Timetable

VA is “on track” to implement a law designed to give veterans more options to have their claims appeals reviewed, as well as speed up the process, agency officials assured lawmakers last month.

Current Issue

Senate VA Committee Chair Vows to Pass ‘Blue Water’ Navy Benefits

Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) vowed that addressing benefits for Blue Water Navy Veterans “is no longer going to be a question,” but that “how we do it is the only question.”

August 2018

VHA Makes Progress in Improving Safety of Opioid Prescribing

VHA medical facilities should ensure that its providers are following three key opioid risk mitigation strategies, including conducting urine drug screening, a recent report recommended.

Current Issue

VA faces healthcare staffing shortages, barriers to hiring facility leaders

A facility-specific survey found that 138 of 140 VA facilities reported shortages of medical officers, with psychiatry and primary care positions being the most frequently listed.

Current Issue

Veteran nephrologist labors to improve ESRD treatment at VA

When Terrence O’Neil, MD, retired as chief of nephrology at the James H. Quillen VAMC in Johnson City in December 2016, he left in his wake decades of work treating kidney disease—nearly 35 years in the Air Force and DoD, plus 11 more at VA.

Current Issue

Committee approves bill to provide agent orange benefits to ‘blue water’ vets

A long sought-after bill that would make it easier for Blue Water Navy veterans to receive Agent Orange benefits has been passed by a key House of Representatives committee.

Current Issue

DoD acknowledges its medical adverse event reporting is ‘unreliable’

The process for tracking the DoD’s most serious adverse medical events is “fragmented, impeding the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) ability to ensure that it has received complete information,” according to a new review.

Current Issue

Automation Speeds Results and Increases Accuracy for Point-of-Care Testing at Walter Reed NMMC

With a long history of point of care testing at both of its predecessor organizations, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) laboratory services staff were keenly aware of the advantages of using portable testing devices to obtain rapid patient assessments.

Current Issue

Bill to Streamline, Expand VA’s Choice Program Signed Into Law

Legislation that would streamline VA’s community care programs into one program and expand VA’s caregiver program to veterans of all eras was signed into law earlier this month..

Current Issue

Despite Criticism, VA Healthcare as Good or Better Than Other Systems

The good news from a recent consultant study is that, overall, the VA healthcare system is generally equal or better than others when inpatient and outpatient quality is measured.

Current Issue

VA Inks Contract for Massive New Health Record System

Calling it one of the largest IT contracts in the federal government, with a ceiling of $10 billion over a decade, then-VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie announced that the agency signed a contract with Cerner for its new electronic health record (EHR).

Current Issue

Surprise! President Nominates Wilkie for Permanent VA Secretary

President Donald Trump said last month that acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie “has done an incredible job” and, in a surprise move, nominated him for the permanent Cabinet position.

Current Issue

Fibromyalgia Presents Differently in Male, Female Veterans

Research on fibromyalgia, a poorly understood, chronically disabling pain syndrome, generally has focused on its clinical presentation and treatment.

Current Issue

How Veterans Feel About Remote Management of Their Care

The VA is expanding remote management of patients to improve disease prevention and care.

Current Issue

Stick-on Monitors Help Warn of Heart Failure Exacerbation in VA Study

While implantable devices have shown promise in reducing rehospitalization for heart failure (HF), VA researchers sought to determine if options that are less expensive and non-invasive would have comparable results.

Current Issue

Legislation: Clinicians Must Be Involved in Formulary Design, Purchasing

Legislation to prevent VA from outsourcing creation of its drug formulary and to require more input from medical professions is being considered in Congress.

Current Issue

GAO: VA Needs Better Planning for ‘Complex’ Appeals System Overhaul

Gene L. Dodaro became the eighth Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on December 22, 2010, when he was confirmed by the United States Senate. WASHINGTON... View Article

Current Issue

High Rate of Pectoralis Tears Among Deployed Servicemembers Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is one way servicemembers keep in peak physical condition during deployment.

Current Issue

DoD Study Finds That Type 2 Diabetes Increases Breast Cancer Mortality

Having Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM-2) increases mortality risk in breast cancer patients, regardless of whether diabetes was diagnosed before or after breast cancer, according to a recent study.

Current Issue

Now Hear This: Otolaryngologist Leads Effort to Prevent Auditory Issues

Among those who are exposed to combat, it’s the weapons fire that does it. In the Navy, it’s the noise levels in engine rooms and on the decks of carriers.

Current Issue

Community Providers Unprepared to Serve Veterans Under Choice Program

As the debate about increasing access for veterans to community-based provider heats up, a serious problem has emerged: Few providers outside the VA health system appear to be prepared to meet the unique challenges of the veteran population.

Current Issue

Former VA Secretary Nominee Claims Allegations Against Him Are False

Veterans’ groups expressed concern last month regarding a “lack of permanent leadership at the department,” after Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, MD, withdrew his name from consideration as VA secretary amid anonymous allegations of misconduct.

April 2018

Shulkin Ousted, White House Physician Nominated for VA Secretary

WASHINGTON — After several weeks of speculation regarding his future in the Trump Administration, VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD’s tenure came to an abrupt end on March 28.

April 2018

Congress Seeks More Oversight of VA EHR Program

WASHINGTON — Legislation under consideration by Congress would increase oversight of VA’s adoption and implementation of its forthcoming electronic health record (EHR) system.

April 2018

GAO: ‘Gaps’ in MHS Physician Specialties Could Affect Wartime Readiness

WASHINGTON — The military services need to develop “targeted and coordinated strategies” to alleviate military physician gaps, a recent report recommended.

April 2018

Congress, VSOs Have Wait-and- See Position on Jackson Nomination

WASHINGTON — Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, MD, was thrust into the spotlight with his nomination as VA secretary late last month, raising questions about the qualifications he would bring to the position.

Department of Homeland Security

VA Vows to Meet Deadline for Revamp of Veteran Claims Appeal Process

WASHINGTON—VA has told legislators that the agency is on track with a new law that will give veterans more options to have their claims appeals reviewed.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Vets With Respiratory Disease More Responsive to ‘Quit’ Programs

MINNEAPOLIS — Because adults with chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) suffer from tobacco-related health issues, they sometimes have greater motivation to quit smoking. But that is not always the case, according to a report in... View Article

Addiction

Long-term Opioid Prescribing Declines in VHA, Bucking National Trend

Extended Prescribing Dropped from 9.5% in 2012 to 6.2% in 2016 By Brenda L. Mooney IOWA CITY, IA—Long-term prescribing of opioid painkillers is on the decline at the VA, in contrast to what appears to be happening outside of federal medicine.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

New VA Budget Requests Seeks Community Care Expansion

WASHINGTON — Calling the Trump administration’s fiscal years 2019 proposed budget for VA “very strong,” VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, told lawmakers that it “provides the resources to continue VA modernization and to respond to... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

With New Hires, VA Has Net Increase of 8,303 Employees; Still Needs Mental Health Professionals

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—VA made progress in filling its vacancies last year with a net increase of 8,303 employees, but the agency still struggles to find enough mental health professionals, especially in light of a... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Cancer Patients Less Likely to Receive Excessive Care at End of Life

VA patients dying of cancer are far less likely to receive excessive and unnecessary end-of-life interventions than those treated by Medicare.

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD, VA Still Struggle with Diagnosing, Treating Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Diagnosing and treating mild traumatic brain injury continues to pose challenges for clinicians, TBI experts told lawmakers.

Agencies Home

VA Promises to Resolve Late Payment Issues with Community Healthcare Providers

Slow Reimbursement Frustrated Clinicians, Hurt Veterans’ Credit By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON—Citing the importance of providing payments in a “timely and consistent manner,” the VA announced that it has revised its regulations for payment and reimbursement... View Article

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Advanced NSCLC Patients Still Receive Aggressive Treatment

Aggressive care for cancer patients appears to be increasing at the end of life, and the VA is part of that trend, according to a new study.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

New Executive Order Guarantees a Year of Mental Healthcare After Separation from Service

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing the DoD, VA and Homeland Security departments develop a plan to ensure that all new veterans receive mental healthcare for at least one year following their separation from service.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Rocky Mountain VAMC Construction Remains Controversial; Set to Open Later This Year

The long delayed and over-budget Rocky Mountain Regional Medical Center in Aurora, CO, is finally scheduled to open its doors in August 2018.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Retired Naval Officer Prepares Nursing School Students to Treat Military Personnel, Veterans

By Stephen Spotswood AUBURN, AL—As more and more veterans begin seeking care in the civilian sector, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that medical centers and educational institutions need to adapt to serve this new patient population.... View Article

Agencies Home

Is Stroke Hospitalization Higher for Mentally Ill Veterans?

A recent study raises questions about whether stroke survivors with severe mental illness are at risk for increased nonpsychiatric hospitalization at the VHA compared to stroke survivors without prior psychiatric diagnoses.

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