KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

VA Executives Received High Ratings Before Scandal

Data released at a congressional hearing shows that all of the 470 senior executives at the VA received annual ratings of "fully successful" over the past four years, even though the health system was having delays in processing compensation claims and veterans were having trouble getting access to care.

The New York Times: Every Senior V.A. Executive Was Rated 'Fully Successful' Or Better Over 4 Years
All of the 470 senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs received annual ratings over the last four years indicating that they were "fully successful" in their jobs or even better, according to data released at a congressional hearing on Friday, despite delays in processing disability compensation claims and problems with veterans' access to the department’s sprawling health care system. None of the department's senior executives received either of the two lowest of five possible job ratings, "minimally satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory," in any of the past four fiscal years (Oppel, 6/20).

In other VA news -

The New York Times: Report Calls For Tracking Data On Stress Disorder
The Department of Defense and the Veterans Affairs Department should track their efforts to treat post-traumatic stress more carefully, to see how effective those efforts are, a government-sponsored report released Friday said (Carey, 6/20).

Los Angeles Times: Government's PTSD Treatment For Veterans Lacking, Report Finds
Despite spending billions of dollars a year to treat military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, the government has little evidence that its efforts are working, according to a new report commissioned by Congress. The report described PTSD care in the military health system as "ad hoc, incremental and crisis driven" and said the Department of Veterans Affairs had not hired mental health providers fast enough to keep pace with the rising demand (Zarembo, 6/20).

The Associated Press:  Veterans Affairs Falls Short On Female Medical Issues
Already pilloried for long wait times for medical appointments, the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs has fallen short of another commitment: to attend to the needs of the rising ranks of female veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them of child-bearing age. The head of the VA's office of women's health acknowledges that persistent shortcomings remain in caring for the 390,000 female vets seen last year at its hospitals and clinics — despite an investment of more than $1.3 billion since 2008, including the training of hundreds of medical professionals in the fundamentals of treating the female body (Burke, 6/23).

The Fiscal Times: Congress Would Give VA A Blank Check To Fix Health Care Mess
When lawmakers head to conference to try to reform the embattled Veterans Affairs health care system, they will consider a Senate-passed measure that includes authorizing $200 million to lease additional medical facilities to alleviate the backlog of veterans waiting for treatment. The problem is the VA has recently come under scrutiny for mismanaging a large portion of the leases it already holds—leading to delays in opening medical centers across the country. A report from the Government Accountability Office shows that 39 of 41 leasing projects reviewed -- worth a total of $2.5 billion -- experienced delays ranging from 6 months to 13 years (Ehley, 6/23).

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