KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Chronically Late Payments From VA Jeopardizing Virginia’s Veterans, Lawmakers Say

The Virginia delegation is concerned about payments coming from the Veterans Choice program, which allows vets to receive care from private providers if they cannot book an appointment at their local VA facility within 30 days or access a facility within 40 miles of their home.

The Washington Post: Virginia Lawmakers Say Late VA Payments Jeopardize Veterans’ Care
Members of Congress from Virginia say chronic late payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs to doctors are jeopardizing care for the state’s aging veteran population. The state’s two senators and 11 House members urged VA administrators to fix a system that can leave health-care providers waiting more than four months for payments they should have received within 30 days. The delays can damage credit, they said. (Portnoy, 10/12)

In other news —

The Washington Post: ‘This Is Frightening’: Noxious Gas Has Sickened VA Workers For Two Years, With Few Solutions
Staff and patients at a D.C. medical facility for homeless military veterans have endured noxious gas exposure for nearly two years as top hospital administrators, though aware of the problem, have failed to remedy it, according to interviews with staff and documents obtained by The Washington Post. At least eight clinical workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs Community Resource and Referral Center have tested positive for elevated levels of carbon monoxide, a March internal email said, describing a potentially dangerous condition that restricts oxygen circulation. As many as 30 employees, desperate to avoid further exposure, have sought reassignment or permission to work remotely. (Horton, 10/12)

Denver Post: Dozens Of Surgeries At Denver VA Hospital Put Off Because Of Doctor Shortage
A shortage of anesthesiologists at Denver’s veterans hospital – despite salary offers reaching as high as $400,000 a year – has forced a delay in dozens of surgeries just months after the institution was tagged with some of the nation’s worst waiting lists for care. Though the hospital employs eight anesthesiologists and eight nurse anesthetists, they’re short of the complement needed to meet surgery demands that run about 380 operations a month, a spokeswoman said, noting some staff has left for other jobs as well as taken paternity and maternity leaves. (Migoya, 10/12)

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