DAV Statement on Current Congressional Proposals to Address the Current VA Health Care Access Problems

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As the Senate, the House and the Department of Veterans Affairs are racing to enact new legislative, regulatory and administrative fixes to VA’s longstanding access problems, DAV (Disabled American Veterans) urges all parties to ensure that any new proposals improve veterans’ health outcomes and preserve the veterans’ health care system by adhering to the following five core principles.

  • FIRST

Veterans who are entitled to receive care inside the VA system, but who do not reside within a reasonable distance of a VA facility or who would be required to wait beyond medically reasonable time limits to be treated, should have the choice to either wait and/or travel for a VA appointment or to choose to have VA coordinate and pay for that care based upon medically responsible time and distance standards at local, qualified non-VA providers.

  • SECOND

Any proposal to expand or enhance access to care must include full, accurate, honest and transparent funding that is separate from the budget required to operate VA’s existing hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities and programs. If Congress or the Administration is going to create new mandates or programs within or outside VA’s health care system, they must honestly calculate the additional costs and guarantee sufficient new sources of funding; under no circumstances should Congress or the Administration pretend to pay for the cost through budgetary gimmicks such as efficiencies, collections, carryovers or contingency funds. New unfunded mandates for veterans’ health care will only worsen the existing access problems inside VA and further threaten the health of wounded, injured and ill veterans.

  • THIRD

VA must remain responsible for ensuring the quality, timeliness and coordination of all health care provided to veterans, whether it is delivered inside VA facilities by VA medical professionals, or at VA clinics operated by outside entities by contract, or through non-VA providers through purchased care programs. Regardless of whether VA is the actual provider or not, the Department and Secretary must remain responsible and accountable for ensuring the best health outcomes for all enrolled veterans. VA must continue to be the entity responsible for coordinating health care treatment and retaining integrated medical records.

  • FOURTH

Any new legislative or regulatory proposals enacted must not interfere with VA’s emergency access initiative that is currently contacting every veteran found to be waiting for care and arranging for them to receive medical appointments either inside the VA system or through non-VA providers within the next thirty days. Since the creation of new administrative structures and procedures will require significant time before they can be fully implemented and operational, new proposals must not interfere with the ongoing emergency actions VA is taking today to provide immediate medical care for thousands of waiting veterans. Further, VA must work openly and collaboratively with Congress and VSO stakeholders to implement its emergency access program, fully sharing all of the findings from audits and investigations, the details of their plans and the expected and actual outcomes as soon as they are known.

  • FIFTH

We call on both Congress and the Administration to take the time necessary to thoroughly investigate and analyze the root causes of VA’s longstanding access problems—in collaboration with VSO stakeholders—and then to work together to craft, enact and implement comprehensive, effective, honest, long-term solutions to address the problems identified. Assuring timely access to VA health care for all eligible veterans requires sufficient physical space (infrastructure), enough doctors, nurses and other medical professionals (staffing, funding), administrative capacity to coordinate delivery of services (management, transparency and accountability) and a backup system for when and where VA is unable to deliver such care in a timely manner (purchased care). Unless all four of these areas are openly, honestly and comprehensively addressed, the access problems that have exploded into the public view over recent months will continue, recur and worsen in the future.

  • Kathy

    I recently saw a plastic surgeon at the MN VA. He told me he is not allowed by the rules of the VA to even treat Vets. with shrapnel scars. What I understand is at the VA you only get the basics done (what only has to be done) and that is it. They call an area the women’s clinic and want you to get a mammogram but do not have the equipment to give you one. They send us somewhere else. In the 70’s/80’s I believe they had the equipment because I was not sent somewhere else. I had surgery there once and after surgery my blood pressure was I believe something like 70 something over 30/40 something. They kept bringing in different equipment to check, thinking there was something wrong with the equipment. There wasn’t, so they gave me so much fluid that when I left 3 days later I weighed 23 to 27lbs heavier than when I came there. I was awake the whole time because when they would take the oxygen out of my nose I would keep putting it back. They were just told to give me all this fluid. I asked for water pills to get rid of all this fluid after I was sent home and was refused. I was so uncomfortable and my joints hurt so bad that I went to a Dr. outside the VA who gave me the needed water pills and said I could have been bleeding internally. Also when my blood pressure was so low and all that was happening the Dr. that did the surgery never even came to see what was going on, all I saw were interns etc. who kept asking me how I felt. When I needed to have all those staples removed later I was even expected to walk to the elevator by myself go to another floor and have them taken out and return without assistance. Also while I was there during all this after the surgery it sounded like food was coming. When it kept getting later and later I pushed the button and asked when my meal would be coming. The guy said why didn’t I ask earlier. 1st of all I did not know for sure when they fed us and 2nd who is suppose to be taking care of who. When I was able to work and had Ins. I saw a DR. outside the VA even though I was % disabled and could go to the VA. Once the Dr. finally found the combination of meds. that worked for me I was laid off from my job and needed to use the VA again. They would not give me the meds. that worked for me and I had to fight to get back on the right combination again. Not being on the right combination of course made me worse while I had to wait for their ok, and they were in no hurry and the fighting of course worsened my condition. I was given a very important test in 2004 and I was told they lost the results. When I asked for this same test recently, that they lost yrs.earlier to see if I carried a specific gene that could cause breast cancer that is linked to ovarian cancer and runs on both sides of my family that could cause cancer, the Dr. put a request in and this time it was refused even though it was done in 2004 and the VA lost the results. The rules have obviously changed and for the worse. They are stopping the Dr.’s that do care from doing all they can and from what I’ve seen and experienced they are hand cuffed from doing more for you, things they would do outside the VA. I have heard stories from other disabled vet’s and could tell you more about other experiences I have had but am concerned that my care could be compromised. I am 75% disabled and considered 100% unable to work do to my service connected disability. Yes we are lucky to have the VA to go to but once you are there are many more changes needed along with getting in sooner that need to be addressed. Thank you for having this so I have someone to vent my frustration to and to let others know about what is going on. Also hopefully there are those out there who have the power to change things at the Minneapolis VA and other VA’s with the same and other problems that need addressing. Thank you again.

    • HMC(SS)USN

      Welcome to the club, sorry you had to go through all of that. I was treated the same way.

    • Kim Bruce

      Yep sounds about right after one of my surgerys they dropped me in the freight elevator because the regular elevator was out of order.welcome to the club.

  • kac123

    DAV Statement on Current Congressional Proposals To Address The Current VA Health Care

  • Jorge Alberto Diaz Rubio

    How one would really trust in the VHA system? After myself been a patient of the VAH in New Orleans for more than 20 years, a “DR” primary care decided to stop ALL my medications because I refused to have a blood test done. I am 5778 042354, this is not a lie, it happen to me…..

  • MissPriss1

    Michael E. Debakey VAMC is not
    following the Veterans Employment initiative for hiring Veterans at the Michael
    E. Debakey VAMC in Houston. I have a concern about possible discrimination
    against hiring Veterans at the Michael E. Debakey VAMC in Houston Texas. I have
    been working with a Veterans Recruitment Authority (VRA), for the past 5 years
    in an effort to obtain employment as an RN with the MEDVAMC. I have a Master’s
    Degree as an Advance Practice Nurse, Certified in Critical Care, Adult Health,
    and I have Prescriptive Authority.

    The VRA states that the MEDVAMC
    has mandated that 40% of its employees would be Veterans however the facility
    only has about 20% veteran employees. I have several RN friends/colleagues (all
    with Masters Degrees and Certifications in Critical Care, Emergency, ETC.) who
    are also veterans that are unable to obtain employment at the facility as RNs.
    In addition, several colleagues with no military background and less education
    are hired. Please consider investigating possible discriminatory hiring
    practices at the VAMC in Houston.

    Houston VAMC does not have to consider
    Veterans Preference when hiring Medical Specialties. Why does the Houston VAMC
    not consider “Veterans Preference” in hiring Medical Fields
    (Physicians, Physicians Assistants, Registered Nurses, etc.). The Federal
    Government encourages hiring Veterans at its facilities why is the Michael E
    Debakey VAMC in Houston different?

    My Theory: is that if there are
    more Veteran Physicians and Nurses at the facilities administrators would have
    to be more accountable as Veteran RNs and MDs would be more inclined to report
    wrongdoing. You would have decreased incidences such as the Walter Reed
    Incidence and Phoenix Arizona Incidence.

    In addition, NONE of the Senior
    Leadership at the Houston VA Medical Center has any military background. Why is
    there not one member in “Senior Leadership” a Veteran or Reservist?

    BTW. I have a great job at a
    civilian hospital in Houston Texas. I just feel that myself (along with my
    Veteran RN colleagues could make a difference at the Houston VAMC if given the
    opportunity.)

    A lot of nurses who are veterans
    are upset they are not getting their 5 or 10 points when applying for medical
    jobs in the VA: http://allnurses.com/…/no-veterans-preference-743208.html.

    • Ski

      MissPriss1,
      Unfortunately, it’s not just the VA in Houston. I am encountering the same issues here in West Texas. I have applied for several positions at the Big Spring VA and one time I was told that my school was not accredited at the time I received my degree. I confronted the HR (she was a little surprised that I was local, I guess she thought she could just pass me up and hire a local (LOTS of nepotism here), and asked why if my degree was good enough for the Navy AND the Air Force, why it was not good enough for the VA (oh, and it was accredited by the NLNAC). I also told her that I was one of the very few RNs in the area that actually has a Bachelors degree as well as I am a CEN with 14 years ER experience.
      If you by chance are able to find out any information as to how we can fight this issue (or if you’ve found a way by now), I’d appreciate some insight.
      Thanks,
      Ski

      • MissPriss1

        Just last week the MEDVAMC contacted me for an interview for an Advance Practice Nurse position. I had to contact the assistant director of the American Legion in Washington DC and the Director for the VESO. An investigation was performed. I received a letter from the Medical Directors Office from the MEDVAMC stating that they would increase hiring of Veterans. Here are the individuals contact information. I would contact all of them via email and via phone. Mr. Jung responds the fastest and will help guide you. They are very willing to help and will strongly advocate on your behalf. Good luck. I belong to the American Legion and the DAV. The DAV did nothing to help:

        Contact Info: Samuel H. Jung
        Assistant Director, National Veterans Employment & Education Division
        Office 202 263-5748 :: Fax 202 861-0404 :: Cell 202 374-5252
        Email SJung@legion.org
        Washington, D.C.

        Dennis O. May, Colonel, USAF (Retired)
        Deputy Director
        Veteran Employment Services Office
        Office: (202) 461-5063
        FAX: (202) 495-5182
        dennis.may@va.gov
        http://www.vaforvets.va.gov

        Andreé M. Sutton, Ed.S, LPC, NCC
        Chief of Recruitment, Retention & Outreach
        Veteran Employment Services Office (VESO)
        BB (347) 749-1414
        andree.sutton@va.gov

        Ms. Frances DeSoto
        Assistant Director
        Veterans’ Employment and Training Service
        U.S. Department of Labor | http://www.dol.gov/vets
        4615 Walzem Road, Suite 100
        San Antonio, Texas 78218
        (210) 582-1629 | Fax (210) 826-6068

        Kena C. Cador
        Legal Intern, USERRA Unit
        U.S. Office of Special Counsel
        (202) 254-3600, Ext. 2551
        kcador@osc.gov

        • Ski

          Much appreciated for the information. I was going to head to the DAV rep here in town, but have been somewhat reluctant as he was not much help the first time I went. I sent an email from the information you sent. Again, I really appreciate the help. Best of luck in your new position. This issue is one reason I want to work there (not because they seem to be a group of total ….. well, I’ll hold my tongue for now), however, I do think as Veterans we are better prepared to take care of our own.

          • MissPriss1

            I know exactly what you mean about the poor care and poor treatment of Veterans at these facilities. The same thing occurs at the MEDVAMC in Houston. I have a great job as an Advance Practice Nurse in the Houston Medical Center at a civilian facility but as a Veteran I believe that I could better serve and advocate on behalf of Veterans at a VA facility. Best of Luck to you.

          • Ski

            Oh, I misunderstood. I thought that once the Medical Director called I assumed they had offered you a job. Wow. Still after all that, they still would not hire you? Or is it just not worth it now?

          • MissPriss1

            I have an interview with the MEDVAMC on 19 August but for five years I was not called for a simple interview. I have a Masters Degree in Nursing. I am a board Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist/Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner. I am also certified in Critical Care but despite my experience and education no interview. The salient issue was that RN colleagues at my current employer with less education and no military experience were receiving interviews and job offers.

            I have another RN colleague, former Air Force Officer, who experience the same thing. No calls for a simple interview. My colleague is certified in Critical Care and has a Masters in Health Care Administration. I believe the facility intentionally discriminates against hiring Veterans (You can’t have the foxes guarding the henhouse.)

            I worked with a Veterans Recruitment Authority (VRA) in the Houston area. He informed me that there is a mandate by the federal government for the VA to hire/recruit at least 33% veterans. As of June 2014, the MEDVAMC has approximately 20% of Veteran employees at the facility. The VRA told me that the MEDVAMC seems to be “going backwards” when hiring Veterans.

            I also wrote my Congressmen, Pete Olson, Ted Cruz, and John Cornyn in an effort to illuminate the issue. They were no help at all so don’t waste your time with them.

          • Ski

            I am surprised about the Congressmen not helping (somewhat). However, I do think you have a good point about them not wanting the “fox guarding the hen house”. I’ve spoken to several employees at this local VA and it seems like you have to poke and prod HR to do their job. And management is staffed by mostly civilians. So, with your information, my persistence (they don’t realize I don’t give up easily and I am not going anywhere, and several other contacts, I now know not to worry about offending or pissing off HR and just keep after them. I am supposed to have a “second” interview tomorrow, was told Monday that someone would call me with a time. Still haven’t heard anything. Need to call. It’s a hassle, but now that I know what I am up against I can continue to keep them on their toes. Best of luck on your interview. The VA needs good nurses and providers all over.

          • MissPriss1

            You have to be persistent. Please don’t give up. After I started working with Mr. Jung (Director at American Legion) it took about 4 months before the MEDVAMC to respond and finally grant a simple interview for my friend and veteran colleague. Mr. Jung also informed me that he had a meeting with 3 high level VA officials in Washington DC in order to illuminate the problem.

            Mr. Jung also contacted the Human Resources Department at the MEDVAMC and demanded answers which probably shook them up a little. If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me. Mr. Jung has my contact information and I will give him permission to pass the information to you. (I will not disclose in this post). Just tell him that L. Patton from Houston Texas referred you. Best of Luck to you!!

          • Ski

            Of course. I am not one to give up easily. If I could expose a fraudulent accusation of adultery while I was deployed, I am not going to give up that easily with the VA. Again, I appreciate all the assistance you have given. If you are ever in West Texas, you are more than welcome to look me up. ;o)

  • Goosie Dalton

    Crazy crap and life threatening incidents have happen to me in the VA system in Missouri to include, Columbia, Popular Bluff, and John Cochran. I have had to long waiting, cancelled appointments I never cancelled, appointments I never knew about, and no follow up’s. I believe that being a Women Veteran gives Doctor’s the right to treat all Women Veteran’s generically and give them all the same diagnosis. Not only are Women treated generically, it has been my experience that most physical therapy, pain management, and group therapy are not individualized, nor updated in their practices. I being a former professional Recreation Therapist, that all the treatments I have receive not only did not apply to me, it also was redundant to things I have taught myself to patients/clients over twenty years ago. There is lack of communication between doctors or laziness to read the chart’s, With every doctor they want to do their own thing, and not work in a holistic manner with so called treatment teams. Often causing not only undue stress to the individuals, but causing harm by prescribing medication’s that people are allergic to, or interact with current medication. The main thing is when treating any Veteran, they are not just a number they are an individual and needs the care of that with people use to dealing with Veterans issues.

  • Valerie Gaskin Adams

    At least you can receive medical care at your VAMC, I cannot even though I was medically discharged from the Alabama Army National Guard on 30 November 2006 with 19 years as an Officer. I retired as a Major. Tuscaloosa VA will not enroll me and I have seeking help for PTSD and Depression due to racism from the Alabama Army National Guard and other medical help for my Sleep Apnea, heart condition, Ventricular Tachycardia and high blood pressure.I have tried to enroll several times, but I am denied because of not enough active duty time. It is my belief that I do not need active duty time because I was medically discharged/retired with sleep apnea, a disability that I incurred while serving. I have even applied VA Disability for Sleep Apnea and other illnesses/diseases that I have been diagnosed with while serving in the Alabama National Guard. I feel that I am being discriminate against from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Montgomery, Alabama. Congresswoman Terri Sewell from Alabama sent me a letter saying the VA has closed my appeal file as of June 2, 2014 because I did not turn in a VA Form 9 to continue the appeal. The VA has given Congresswoman inaccurate information. VA lied to her because I have copy of my VA Form 9 that my attorney LaVan & Neidenberg sent me. The Department of Justice needs to investigate Montgomery, Alabama VA. I would greatly appreciate if the DAV would complete a thorough investigation concerning my claim.

  • Dawn Bostic-Clark

    I recently got my VA disability approved but was told the separation pay that I got when I separated 2 years ago has to be paid back with my disability back pay and with my future VA payments until its paid in full until I can receive a VA disability check… does anybody know anything about this?? also I was denied three things on my disability claim two of which I’m being treated for and don’t understand how it could possibly be denied?? anyone’s help on what to do would be greatly appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    The FBI should also be investigating the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General for failing to investigate over 50 anonymous veteran and employee hotline complaints made within a 2-year period about patient scheduling issues. These complaints raised concerns about hospital staff failures to schedule patient appointments within 14 days of the veterans request.

    Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General has four functions – Audits and Evaluations, Healthcare Inspections, Investigations, and Management and Administration. None of these functions ever bothered to look into these issues despite numerous complaints.

  • JoJo

    Does anyone out there know if I can reopen my VA disability case without losing my monthly benefits, while an investigation takes place? This is what happened… I have my C-file, and I discovered that I had the VA diagnosed me with chronic lung disease back in 2000. I was not aware of this and I was never treated for this; although I knew something was wrong I did not know how to procede to finding out what was wrong. Those no good, dirty lowdown people who have the conscious of SATAN, allowed me to go without any medical treatment all these years. This was not part of my disability settlement. My health has declined but by the grace of GOD, I am holding on. I also discovered two other health issues the VA, knew I had but said nothing while serving my country. They also beat me out of $10,000 overpayment I had made. I never knew I had over paid them this money…The thing is I could have gotten it back if I filed for it within 3 yrs, but they informed me 4 yrs after the fact, making it too late to get my money back. There must be a way I can get my monies from the VA, without losing my present benefits of which they are looking for ways to reduce presently. This country cannot continue to cheat, lie, deny and steal from the very people who put their lives on the line for them…enough is enough.

  • Georgianne3232Walk

    My business partners wanted VA 9 yesterday and discovered an excellent service that has a ton of fillable forms . If others want VA 9 too , here’s http://qr.net/bWJMa