President Trump Extends Private-Sector Health Care Program For Vets

This is great that some of the VA issues are being addressed.

President Donald Trump signed a bill Wednesday to temporarily extend a program that lets some veterans seek medical care in the private sector, part of an effort by the president to deliver on a campaign promise.

The extension will give Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin time to develop a more comprehensive plan to allow veterans to more easily go outside the VA health system for care. Under the bill Trump signed into law, the VA will be allowed to continue operating its Choice Program until the funding runs out, which is expected early next year. The program was scheduled to expire on Aug. 7 with nearly $1 billion left over.

Trump said veterans have “not been taken care of properly” and that the program will continue to be able to see “the doctor of their choice.”

“You got it? The doctor of their choice,” he repeated for emphasis.

Shulkin, who attended the bill signing, has said the money is needed to pay for stopgap services while he works on the longer-term plan. He said Wednesday that the plan is due in the fall. Congress would have to approve any changes to the VA health system.

Shulkin said the extension is important because it gives veterans another avenue for care. AP

Investigation Finds Veteran Patients In Imminent Danger At VA Hospital In D.C

The conditions at the VA are deplorable!

Conditions are so dangerous at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C., that the agency’s chief watchdog issued a rare preliminary report Wednesday to alert patients and other members of the public.

The VA inspector general found that in recent weeks the operating room at the hospital ran out of vascular patches to seal blood vessels and ultrasound probes used to map blood flow.

The facility had to borrow bone material for knee replacement surgeries. And at one point, the hospital ran out of tubes needed for kidney dialysis, so staff had to go to a private-sector hospital and ask for some.

The hospital, which serves more than 98,000 veterans in the nation’s capital, lacks an effective inventory system, the inspector general determined, and senior VA leaders have known about the problem for months and haven’t fixed it. Investigators also inspected 25 sterile storage areas and found 18 were dirty.

“Although our work is continuing, we believed it appropriate to publish this Interim Summary Report given the exigent nature of the issues we have preliminarily identified and the lack of confidence in VHA adequately and timely fixing the root causes of these issues,” VA Inspector General Michael Missal wrote. USAToday

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Senator Tom Coburn Report Details VA Problems

US-DeptOfVeteransAffairs-SealSenator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released a scathing 119-page report documenting the Department of Veterans Affairs  misconduct throughout the last decade.  The Veterans Affairs secret waiting list scandal is “just the tip of the iceberg,” Senator Tom Coburn said, “this report shows the problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined.”  Coburn said money is not the issue, noting that Congress has increased VA funding “rapidly in recent years” and that the agency had more than $34 billion in unspent funds in fiscal 2013.

Politico summarizes the key findings:

  • Delinquent doctors and nurses and lagging medical treatment at the Department of Veterans Affairs may have caused the deaths of more than 1,000 veterans and cost the U.S. $845 million in medical malpractice suits, Sen. Tom Coburn charged in a report released on Tuesday.  The deaths, which occurred over a 10-year period, resulted from VA officials prescribing unneeded and unmonitored painkillers to veterans, delayed treatment that caused cancer to go undetected and veterans waiting at times for months for procedures, the report found.
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