Your veterans news update for Wednesday, August 20:
Hospital system is having trouble reaching veterans (Arizona Republic)
The outsourcing of Veterans Affairs patients to metro Phoenix health providers is in full swing, but one major hospital system has encountered a challenge reaching veterans. Banner Health, the largest metro Phoenix health system, had made appointments for 551 veterans but has been unable to reach an equal number of veterans who need care.
VA reform brings collaboration opportunities (Government Health IT)
VA clinicians and their counterparts at private health systems, hospitals and medical practices will have a new opportunity to coordinate services for veterans and solve a long-standing access problem that goes beyond long-appointment times — geography.
New York law gives veterans tuition break (Associated Press)
A New York state law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday will give veterans in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities even if they wouldn’t otherwise qualify. Another provision makes it easier for children of service members who are posted to New York to transfer their records to a new school.
New leader at Reno VA … for now (Reno Gazette Journal)
The Reno Veterans Affairs Regional Office apparently has a new leader, although she is carrying the title of “acting director.” During his visit to Reno, recently appointed VA Secretary Robert McDonald introduced Kathy Malin, from Boise, Idaho, as the new leader of the Reno office, saying “Kathy is leading this site.”
VA still using old tricks to hide deaths and delays, reports show (Washington Examiner)
The Washington Examiner has reported since February that VA launched a nationwide purge of backlogged medical orders — called “consults” by the agency — that cleared more than 1.5 million appointments nationwide with no guarantee patients received care that had been ordered.
A fatal level of trust in Veterans Affairs care (Washington Examiner)
Long waits for colonoscopies are a longstanding problem at VA. Even before the most recent scandal about falsified patient waiting lists, VA was under fire for waits of a year or longer that many veterans faced to get a colonoscopy or similar procedure. Terry Weirick, who died at 65 of colorectal cancer, “was a faithful believer in the VA,” Rebecca Weirick said. An inspector general’s report issued in September 2013 linked the deaths of five patients at the VA hospital in Columbia, S.C., to unacceptable delays in colonoscopies.
LGBT legal group sues VA to provide same-sex benefits (Washington Blade)
A prominent LGBT legal group filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration this week to compel the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide spousal benefits to married same-sex couples in non-marriage equality states. The litigation alleges the Obama administration’s decision to withhold certain spousal benefits to married same-sex couples in states without marriage equality runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against the Defense of Marriage Act.
111 days later, former Phoenix VA official still getting paid (The Blaze)
The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ broken health care clinic in Phoenix, Arizona is still being paid her $170,000 salary 111 days after being released in the wake of the VA health care scandal. Concerned Veterans for America has launched a web page tracking how long Sharon Helman is still getting paid, despite constant promises from the VA that officials involved in the scandal will be held accountable.
VA drug addiction worker took recovering vet to a crack house (Daily Caller)
A “peer support specialist” working for the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System took a veteran recovering from drug addiction to a crackhouse to help him buy drugs — and still hasn’t been fired over a year later. The unnamed employee has been found guilty of patient abuse, misuse of government vehicles, filing false overtime requests, and multiple ethics violations, but is still listed in the CAVHCS employee directory.