Challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs – Plus the 7 Gov Stories

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But up front: The DorobekINSIDER reader: Challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs

The White House will reportedly nominate the former head of Procter & Gamble, Robert A. McDonald, as the new secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are many challenges ahead, of course.

Some background reading on those challenges:

Report Finds Health Unit of V.A. Needs Overhaul [The New York Times]: The Veterans Health Administration has a corrosive culture that has led to poor management, a history of retaliation toward employees, cumbersome and outdated technology, and a shortage of doctors, nurses and physical space to treat its patients, according to a review presented to President Obama on Friday by one of his top advisers on veterans’ issues.

Mr. Obama called last month for the review of the Veterans Health Administration, a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, just days before he accepted the resignation of the Veterans Affairs secretary, Eric Shinseki. The review warns that the department’s hospital system is facing a coming surge of new patients from Afghanistan and Iraq that demands an overhaul of the entire system.

A top level summary: Issues Impacting Access to Timely Care at VA Medical Facilities

Audit: More than 120,000 veterans waiting or never got care [CNN]: The figures in the audit — 57,436 newly enrolled veterans facing a minimum 90-day wait for medical care; 63,869 veterans who enrolled over the past decade requesting an appointment that never happened — show the scope of the problem. At the same time, both figures represent about 1% of the total 6 million or so appointments in the VA system now, and don’t reflect possible changing circumstances, such as enrolled veterans who seek care at a different facility than the one where they first signed up. Gibson’s statement said the VA has contacted 50,000 veterans “to get them off of wait lists and into clinics” so far, and planned to contact another 40,000.

Read The VA Inspector General Interim Report: Review of VHA’s Patient Wait Times, Scheduling Practices, and Alleged Patient Deaths at the Phoenix Health Care System [PDF]: The report identifies the allegations substantiated to date, and provides recommendations that VA should implement immediately.

GAO: VA Health Care: Further Action Needed to Address Weaknesses in Management and Oversight of Non-VA Medical Care

And it isn’t just about veterans. The New York Times has looked at the military medical system:

In Military Care, a Pattern of Errors but Not Scrutiny [The New York Times]: Internal documents depict a military medical-care system in which scrutiny is sporadic and avoidable errors are chronic.

The New York Times has chart detailing the reports done on the VA health care system over the years if you want to read even more.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Nextgov: Administration Got What It Deserved in Botched Rollout, Report Says: The report: Red Flags: How Politics and Poor Management Led to the Meltdown of An Inquiry by the Senate Finance Committee Minority Staff and the Senate Judiciary Committee Minority Staff [PDF]

  2. New York Times: New N.S.A. Chief Calls Damage From Snowden Leaks Manageable- “The newly installed director of the National Security Agency says that while he has seen some terrorist groups alter their communications to avoid surveillance techniques revealed by Edward J. Snowden, the damage done over all by a year of revelations does not lead him to the conclusion that “the sky is falling.”

  3. USA Today: Supply won’t meet growing demand for primary care- “Federally funded programs will add at least 2,300 new primary care practitioners by the end of 2015, but the funding for at least one of those programs is set to expire at the same time, contributing to a massive shortage of doctors available to treat patients — including those newly insured through the Affordable Care Act and Medicare.”

  4. NPR: Obama To Nominate Former Procter & Gamble Chief To Head VA- “President Obama on Monday will nominate Robert McDonald, the former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a White House official.”

  5. Nextgov: A New Cyber Security Bill Could Give the NSA Even More Data: “Privacy groups are sounding the alarm that a new Senate cybersecurity bill could give the National Security Agency access to even more personal information of Americans.”

  6. Government Executive: Not Ready to Retire? Not a Problem at NIH.- “Sixty-two-year-old Joe Ellis officially retired from the National Institutes of Health in June 2012. Yet he still shows up at the federal agency’s Bethesda, Md., campus roughly two days a week. When he’s there, Ellis tackles long-term projects or mentors younger colleagues, but never for more than 20 hours a week.”

  7. FCW: DHS plans for cybersecurity in interconnected world- “The Department of Homeland Security is increasingly concerned about the rise of interconnected machines, government and private networks — and its newly released strategic plan reflects that emphasis.”

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

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