KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Bill To Give Veterans Private Medical Care Advances In House

The Rules Committee approved the measure Tuesday. In other news on veterans' care, a Kansas senator pushes the administration to keep a pilot project offering some of that same flexibility in rural areas and the White House is turning to experts for help in picking a new leader for the VA.

Politico: House VA Bill Advances
The House moved closer on Tuesday to giving veterans stuck on federal wait lists for medical care the freedom to visit private providers. The Rules Committee approved legislation that would allow veterans who live far from a Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical facility or who have been delayed longer than the VA's "standard" wait time for treatment to seek care from a private doctor (French, 6/17).

Kansas Public Radio: Future Uncertain For VA Rural Health Care Pilot Program
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pilot program offering timely, quality health care to rural veterans is being allowed to expire in a few months, even though VA officials tell members of Congress no decision has been made. The pilot program is called Access Received Closer to Home, or ARCH. It's offered through five sites across the country, including a Kansas site in Pratt. The program allows veterans to get health care services from community providers if they live at least one hour from a VA health facility (Thompson, 6/17).

Reuters: White House Asks Health Care Experts For Help In Picking VA Head
The White House has turned to healthcare experts and industry leaders in its effort to pick a new head for the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency's interim leader said on Tuesday. "This is one of the most important jobs in government today," Gibson said in remarks at the Baltimore VA Center. "This is one position that has a greater opportunity to have an impact and make a lasting difference than any other opportunity in health care” (Clarke, 6/17).

Baltimore Sun: VA’s Acting Chief Tours Baltimore Medical Center
The acting secretary of veterans affairs said Tuesday that the agency would add more primary care physicians to the Maryland VA Health Care System to help reduce the long waits for veterans seeking appointments with doctors. Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson said the agency would also add $500,000 — a 40 percent increase — to help veterans facing delays seek private care (Wenger, 6/17).

The Associated Press: New Jersey Hospital To Offer Veterans Priority
Veterans will go to the front of the line at a private New Jersey health care system under a new program being started in response to problems with the federal Veterans Administration’s health system. Under the initiative announced Tuesday, veterans living in the seven southern New Jersey counties are being promised same-day primary care appointments and help from health care navigators at Cooper University Health Care. Veterans would be served at the hospital in Camden and at system clinics in southern New Jersey (6/17).

The Associated Press: Millions In Bonuses Paid In Phoenix VA System
Workers at the Phoenix VA Health Care System — where investigators say veterans' health was jeopardized when employees covered up long wait times for patients — received about $10 million in bonuses, newly released records show. Department of Veterans Affairs documents indicate than 2,100 employees got bonuses over the course of a three-year period, the Arizona Republic reported (6/18).

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