Current Events

VA News on Memorial Day

As I do every Memorial Day, I highlight some recent news about the health care system serving our veterans, Veterans Affairs (VA).

First off, VA is starting to use social determinants of health, and health-related social needs when conducting hospital discharge planning.

VA deputy assistant IG Julie Kroviak: “…there’s a citation in the report where 20% of a patient’s outcome is due to actually what happens clinically. And it’s this other 80% that influence the true outcomes and their true recovery outside of the clinical space. So, this is a way to address and measure, potentially measure those issues.

…We need to make sure that we understand where exactly we’re sending that patient to. And you’re right. We can’t buy the patients a new house. We can’t go pick them up every time and take them to their appointments or take them grocery shopping. But we have to look at services to coordinate overcoming these barriers. And some of them are unique to the VA. So, VA can supply some of these services, but also coordinating with community services, you know, state, local, you know, counties, city support systems that veterans will be eligible for as well. But if we don’t know the barriers, we can’t target them.”

Will expanding VA facilities in Florida lead to reduced access to non-VA physicians in Florida? Some veterans are not pleased.

Cohen is one of several veterans who spoke to Fox News Digital about how the West Palm Beach VA Healthcare System is no longer approving their requests for community care, cutting them off from their longtime mental health providers, with potentially devastating results…

“Initially, people were always required to get their care inside of the VA. The VA started having really long wait times, or wasn’t providing adequate service, or a number of reasons why people decided they wanted to get outside of the VA. And the Trump administration said, great, you want to go get community care, we’re going to create a system for you to go outside of the VA,” Mast explained. 

“Now the Biden administration is saying, we don’t want to allow that to happen,” he said. Mast sent a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough last week demanding an explanation for this apparent “departure from long-standing practices.” 

However, the VA also has said that it has reduced wait times from primary and mental health care,

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Friday that it has slightly cut wait times for veterans seeking health care, citing an 11% decrease in average wait times for VA primary care and a 7% decrease for mental health care compared to the same time last year.

The shorter waits come even as the VA has enrolled more than 400,000 veterans in health care over the past year, a 30% increase from the previous year, according to Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the VA under secretary for health, who spoke with reporters during a virtual roundtable from the Richmond, Virginia, VA Medical Center.

The VA also hired more than 61,000 new health care workers last year as part of an effort to boost services following the PACT Act, a historic 2022 expansion of VA medical care and disability compensation for veterans sickened by exposure to toxic substances while serving.