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Disabled American Veterans
Department of Florida
By Al Linden
April 30, 2016
As of April 30, 2016 our membership was 61,744
The goal for life membership for this year 437 are needed.
STATE COMMANDER JOHNSON MESSAGE
MEMBERSHIP IS OUR MAJOR CONCERN, AS WE APPROACH OUR DEPARTMENT CONVENTION.
THIS IS BUDDIE’S YEAR AND WE CAN’T LET HIM DOWN.
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE CHAPTERS WHO HAVE MET THEIR GOAL, BUT AM ASKING YOU NOT TO STOP, KEEP SIGNING UP NEW MEMBERS.
IF YOU HAVE NOT MET YOUR GOAL, OUR SLOGAN FOR THE REST OF THIS MEMBERSHIP YEAR IS “SIGN ONE UP FOR BUDDY”.
MAKE YOUR MEMBERS AWARE OF OUR NEED FOR NEW MEMBERS. CARRY APPLICATIONS WITH YOU.
IF YOU SEE A VETERAN IN YOUR COMMUNITY, HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH THEM.
ASK IF THEY ARE IN THE VA SYSTEM
ASK IF THEY WOULD LIKE ASSISTANCE WITH THEIR BENEFIT PROGRAM,
“YOUR SERVICE OFFICERS WILL OFFER FREE ASSISTANCE.”
ASK THEM TO JOIN.
“IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO BE A MEMBER, YOU DESERVE TO BELONG.”
PLEASE SIGN INTO
DAV.ORG TO SIGN UP FOR THE POLITICAL ACTION NETWORK.
YOU CAN SEND A PREPARED LETTER TO YOUR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES, ASKING THEM TO SUPPORT OUR LEGISLATIVE GOALS.
EVERYONE SHOULD BE SIGNED IN.
MY TRAVELS HAVE TAKEN ME TO LAKELAND,
(SUNCARE RESORT FUNDRAISER WHERE WE RECEIVED A DONATION FOR $25,000+,
JACKSONVILLE FOR BUDDIES SERVICE, BRADENTON FOR THEIR ANNUAL PATRIOTIC EVENT,
AND BACK TO JACKSONVILLE FOR INSTALLATION OF OFFICERS.
SEE EVERYONE AT THE CONVENTION IN JUNE.
Andy Marshall Announces for National Office
Andy Marshall is retiring as National Service Officer in February 2016 and it was announce at the Florida DAV Mid-Winter conference that he will be running for National Office at the upcoming National Convention.
Andy has over 40 years as a National Service Officer and is well respected leader of veterans.
Any donations for the Committee to Elect Andy Marshall for National office should be sent to:
3449 Fairchild Trail
Clearwater Florida, 33761
Let’s all get on board and support Andy Marshall.
Also be reminded that Chapter Annual Financial Reports are due by September 30 each year.
Chapter Officers Reports are due within 10 days after installation each year or when changes are made.
ALL chapters make $50,000 and less and do not file any other IRS form must file a N990 by November 15 each year.
Last year 4 chapters failed to due so and their tax exempt was removed and it cost them over $400 to get it reinstated.
All financial disbursements of the chapter must be made by check.
All checks must include the signature of at least two officers.
There should be no debit or credit utilized by the chapter.
New Department Membership Program
The Department is having a yearend life membership program to meet our goal.
Department will pay up to $35 for any member to become a fully paid life member before June 15, 2016.
See details on page 13.
END PAGE 1
As of As Of Apr 30, 2016
TOTAL ASSETS $1,295,950
TOTAL LIABILITIES $110,305
TOTAL LIABILITIES and FUND BALANCES $1,295,950
Bay Pines VAVS $2304
Gainesville VAVS $1000
Tampa VAVS $1950
Lake City VAVS $2225
WPB VAVS $1000
Miami VAVS $2200
Orlando VAVS $7550
Eglin CBOC $0
END PAGE 2
Cost of Living
On March 17, 2016, Representative Ralph Abraham (LA), Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs
Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, introduced H.R. 4782, the Veterans'
Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Act of 2016. This measure would increase veterans'
disability compensation, survivor benefits and clothing allowances by the same percentage as Social
Security benefit increases scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016, and would affect payments
beginning January 1, 2017.
Unfortunately, H.R. 4782 contains a round-down provision which DAV adamantly opposes based on
National Resolution No. 017. Specifically, the practice of rounding-down compensation increases to the
nearest whole dollar is unfair. This practice, established over 20 years ago as a temporary measure, has
siphoned millions of dollars annually from disabled veterans, their families and survivors and jeopardizes
the ability of those relying on these benefits to maintain an adequate standard of living.
We ask you to please contact your Representative and urge them to cosponsor and support passage of
this bill, and to inform them that the practice of rounding-down compensation increases is unfair to
veterans their families and survivors.
Representative Elise Stefanik [NY-21] introduced H.R. 3989, the Support Our Military Caregivers Act,
which, if passed, would establish an external review process in cases where VA caregiver benefits were
either revoked, inadequate, or denied. The measure would ensure that once a review is requested by a
caregiver, a decision would be required to be completed within 120 days.
DAV has long had concerns with VA's Comprehensive Caregiver Support Program, including the seeming
lack of due process and transparency in the decision and appeal process for applicants. Early on, we
identified the need for an independent mechanism where (1) a caregiver can appeal a clinical team's
decision; (2) that decision can be carefully reviewed from the beginning; and (3) an unwarranted
decision can be reversed, altered, or sent back to the clinical team with instructions to reassess or
consider additional issues.
It is imperative that veterans and their caregivers are granted this basic due process and we ask you to
please contact your Representative and urge them to cosponsor and support passage of this bill during
the 114th Congress. As always, thank you for your advocacy and for aiding DAV in support of our
mission of empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.
Representative Lee Zeldin [NY-1] has introduced H.R. 2460, legislation designed to increase the availability of adult day health care
services for severely disabled veterans. If enacted, the legislation would reimburse state veterans homes for the provision of adult day
health care services to severely disabled veterans who are eligible for, but do not receive, full-time skilled nursing home care paid for
by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), with no cost to the veteran.
Under current law, veterans who require nursing home care due to a service connected disability or who have a VA disability rating
of 70% or more can receive full time nursing home care inside a state veteran home at no cost; however, the law does not allow those
same severely disabled veterans to benefit from adult day health care, which is a less costly non-institutional alternative many
prefer. H.R. 2460 would amend existing law to authorize VA to pay state veterans homes a per diem rate that is 65% of the per diem
otherwise payable for full time skilled nursing home care for these same severely disabled veterans.
Adult day health care, which is currently offered by only three state homes, provides comprehensive medical, nursing and personal
care services combined with social activities for physically or cognitively impaired adults. Under this program, veterans are brought
to the state home for 6-8 hours where they can receive any necessary medical care -- including physical, occupational or speech
therapy -- as well as nutritional and social services. Adult day health care allows severely disabled veterans who might otherwise
need skilled nursing services to receive them several times a week while continuing to live at home.
If enacted, H.R. 2460 would enable more state veterans homes across the country to offer adult day health care programs for these
deserving veterans. It would also provide important relief and support for their family caregivers.
Please contact your elected officials to urge them to cosponsor, support passage, or to thank them for cosponsoring H.R. 2460 during
the 114th Congress
Orlando VAMC Surgery Services Open at Lake Nona
Thursday, January 7, 2016
ORLANDO, Fla. - As part of its on-going activation effort the Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Nona has relocated its surgical and medicine services from Lake Baldwin to Lake Nona.
Wednesday’s activation is the beginning of expanding ambulatory surgery and Endoscopic procedures at Lake Nona for Orlando’s more than 105,000 Veterans, including eight operating rooms and two Cystoscopy suites in surgical services.
The opening offers ambulatory surgeries for various surgical specialties, including ENT, general surgery, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Pain Management, Podiatry, Plastic Surgery, Urology, and Vascular Surgery.
Orlando’s Medicine Service includes eight endoscopy suites, which offer ambulatory procedures for Gastroenterology and Pulmonary Medicine.
“Today’s opening represents another milestone in our journey to fully activate this medical center for our Veterans,” said Timothy W. Liezert, medical center director.
“Our surgical capabilities are core to the many services we offer Veterans, and we intend to keep moving forward in expanding services to meet the needs of Central Florida Veterans.”
The opening continues the Orlando VAMC’s aggressive efforts in opening its 134-bed hospital tower and Emergency Department, both set to open in early 2016.
END PAGE 3
END PAGE 4
Florida Membersip January 31, 2016
END PAGE 5
ibid: G - met or surpassed goal
END PAGE 6
Florida Legislation April 30, 2016
END PAGE 7
VA Secretary and Deputy Secretary tell Commission on Care: Transformation is Underway and
Already Delivering Measurable Results for Veterans
WASHINGTON — Today Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald and Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Sloan D. Gibson updated the Commission on Care laying out the current state of VA and the transformation that is
underway to deliver better customer service and results for America’s Veterans. In laying out the key pieces of the
transformation underway — MyVA — Secretary McDonald said, “MyVA is our framework for modernizing our culture,
processes, and capabilities — combining functions, simplifying operations, providing Veterans a world-class, customer-
focused, Veteran-centered enterprise. I know transformational change is not easy but it is our commitment to the
Veterans we serve in order to bring them the customer service and the care and benefits they have earned.” Secretary
McDonald outlined the five MyVA strategies focused on customer-service excellence: improve the Veteran experience,
improve the employee experience, improve internal support services, establish a culture of continuous improvement, and
expand strategic partnerships. He also provided updates on progress made to date of VA's 12 breakthrough
priorities.“We have challenges in VA and we own them, but the transformation that Bob talked about is well underway
and already delivering measurable results for improving access to care and improving the Veterans experience,” said
Deputy Secretary Gibson. Deputy Secretary Gibson laid out the roadmap for VA to transform from a loose federation of
regional systems to a highly integrated enterprise and integrated provider and payer model and presented the following
metrics showing that transformation is underway and having positive impact on Veterans care.
* In a nationwide, one-day Access Stand Down VHA staff reviewed the records of more than 80,000 Veterans to
get those waiting for urgent care off of wait lists and into clinics. They identified just over 3,300 patients waiting
for more than seven days on the Electronic Wait List (EWL) for an appointment in a Level One clinic. By the
end of the day, 80 percent were given an appointment immediately, and 83 percent were given an appointment
within two-and-a-half weeks.
* Real-time customer-satisfaction feedback collected in our medical centers through VetLink our kiosk-based
software—tells us that about 90 percent of Veterans are either “completely satisfied” or “satisfied” getting the
appointment when they wanted it.
* Annual clinical work has increased among VA providers seeing Veterans by almost 18 percent in the last three
years; 20 percent when VA and non-VA providers are calculated together.
* With changes already underway to leverage our scale and build a world class end-to-end supply chain, we have
already redirected $24 million back towards activities providing better Veteran outcomes.
These results build on the elements of excellence already in place in VA’s health care system that must be maintained and, in many cases, expanded upon.
* According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, VA has outperformed the private sector in customer service for a decade.
* According to a February article in the Journal of American Medicine, 30-day risk-standardized mortality rates are lower in VA than those of non-VA hospitals for acute myocardial infarction and heart failure.
* The American Journal of Infection Control found that in five years methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections declined 69 percent in VA acute care facilities and 81 percent in spinal cord injury units thanks to VA's aggressive MRSA prevention plan.
* The Independent Assessment found that VA performed the same or signifcantly better than non-VA providers on 12 of 14 effectiveness measures in the inpatient setting.
* The Independent Assessment also found that VA performed signifcantly better on 16 outpatient HEDIS measures compared with commercial HMOs and signifcantly better on l5 outpatient HEDIS measures compared with Medicare HMOs.
* A 2015 study found that VA mental health care was better than private-sector care by at least 30 percent on all seven performance measures, with VA patients with depression more than twice as likely as private-sector patients to "get effective long-term treatment.
* Another 2015 study found that outcomes for VA patients compared favorably to patients with non-VA health insurance, with VA patients more likely to receive recommended evidence-based treatment.
Secretary McDonald and Deputy Secretary Gibson were joined by VHA’s Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Community Care, Dr. Baligh Yehia, who outlined the history and evolution of VA’s partnering with medical providers in the community to include the Department of Defense, Indian Health Service, several academic medical partner hospitals, and a growing number of private sector providers.
He outlined the path forward for the Veterans Health Administration to become
END PAGE 8
an integrated payer and provider, much of which depends on a legislative
proposal currently working through - end -
The Department's Newsletter ends here - we have "the rest of the story".
VA offered demonstrations of three management tools showcasing new technology to improve the way Veterans schedule appointments and
how VA health care practitioners can see and interact with patient data, all of which improve outcomes for Veterans and take into account
feedback from Veterans and employees. This includes a cell phone app currently in development that will allow Veterans to schedule their own
appointments as well as a program that has existed in all VA medical centers for a year-and-a-half that allows VA physicians to view a patient
record that integrates information from VA, the Department of Defense and community health partners in one screen.
Today’s presentation to the Commission on Care follows a presentation less than a month ago from VA’s Under Secretary for Health, Dr.
David Shulkin who laid out actions already underway at the Veterans Health Administration and the vision to move it into the future that
embraces an integrated community care model.
* Readout of Under Secretary for Health Meeting with the Commission on Care on March 23, 2016 Secretary McDonald addresses suggestions to “shut down VA health care altogether” in a speech to the United Veterans Committee of Colorado last week.
* Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David Shulkin’s vision for an integrated payer and provider system in the New England Journal of Medicine: Beyond the VA Crisis — Becoming a High-Performance Network
* The announced launch of MyVA Access outlining systemic improvements and results for Veterans wanting increased access to care
* Secretary McDonald makes the case for the importance of VA health care to American Medicine in the Baltimore Sun
This may be particularly helpful when a veteran needs a copy of his DD-214 for employment purposes.
NPRC is working to make it easier for veterans with computers and lntemet access to obtain copies of documents from their military files.
Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military members may now use a new online military personnel records system to request documents.
Other individuals with a need for documents must still complete the Standard Fonn 180, which can be downloaded from the online web site.
Because the requester will be asked to supply all information essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized.
The new web-based application was designed to provide better service on these requests by eliminating the records centers mailroom and processing time.
Each Chapter needs a Benefit Protection Team Leader
DAV's new Benefits Protection Team is truly a way for everyone - DAV, DAVA, your friends and neighbors - to get involved in our fight to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill.
Every program that assists veterans, every benefit, every dollar paid out to a disabled veteran starts as legislation.
You can become involved as little or as much as you want.
Sign up for and respond to legislative alerts with DAV CAN, attend local events held in your community, read the vital information on current legislative issues on our website.
But most of all - speak to fellow DAV members, your family, friends and coworkers about legislative issues that may affect our benefits.
It's that simple.
The more voices speaking in unison to Congress gets our message - your messaqe - heard!
To learn more about DAV's Benefits Protection Team.
I have an exciting announcement regarding a new partnership, which features a very unique platform for DAV's message of service to veterans, their families and veteran supporters.
B&B Theatres, the eighth largest theatre chain in the United States with 407 screens in 51 locations across Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, has partnered with DAV and will provide moviegoers an opportunity to make a donation to the organization in conjunction
with the release of “Captain America: Civil War.”
This donation opportunity, which will be provided to patrons as they purchase movie tickets, will fuel our efforts to provide high-quality services at no cost to veterans or their families.
Many will have the opporttmity to see DAV promotional materials and messaging in B&B Theatres from late April to mid-May.
Should you attend one of these 5l locations, I invite you to have a photo taken of yourself next to DAV branded messaging.
You can share it across our social networks with the hashtag #TeamVeterans.
END PAGE 9
Readout of Under Secretary for Health Meeting with Commission on Care
WASHINGTON — Today, Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David Shulkin, spoke to the Commission on Care and shared the actions
already underway to transform the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the vision to move it into the furture that embraces an integrated community care model.
Dr. Shulkin stressed the need for the Commission to fulfill its collaborative mandate to fully explore all options under its charter, and
underscored that simply forcing a choice between a community provider or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA ) will weaken the ability of
VA to develop a truly integrated community based network that can evolve and improve.
He expressed agreement on many issues of concern that some members of the Commission have brought forth about VHA, but also
provided candid feedback where VA disagrees. He made clear that we have made key advances in access, quality and patient satisfaction within
the larger transformation we call MyVA.
He also reminded Commissioners that the VA health care system has an understanding of the consequences of military exposure, PTSD,
polytrauma care, prosthetics and other types of care that are unrivaled by any other health care system in the world. Any recommendations for
reform must be sure not to impede the contract VA has with Veterans to translate that understanding into state-of-the-art care that helps Veterans
manage illness and achieve their highest level of health and well-being.
Dr. Shulkin made clear that VA is committed to bold transformation and has already begun its largest reorganization in history, which is
MyVA. Defined as our effort to modernize VA’s culture, processes and capabilities, we are transforming the Department into a Veteran-centered
service organization. Within the 12 Breakthrough Priorities laid out by Secretary McDonald, several focus squarely on health care outcomes
specifically improving access to care and improving community care.
We have submitted to Congress a plan to streamline and untangle our community care programs so that we may improve relationships with
community providers, process and pay claims more timely and assure that Veterans can see a community provider within 30 days of their referral.
We are also working with Congress to enable the development of high performance networks.
We have established the Office for Community Care, which is in charge of this effort and is coordinating outsourced bill payments,
improving the customer service experience, and enhancing technology to support the exchange of health information.
VHA created and has begun to implement the Blueprint for Excellence, which offers a detailed vision for the evolution of health services
provided by VHA.
Increasing Access to Care
Dr. Shulkin laid out our efforts already underway to increase access to care for Veterans highlighting the two recent Access Stand Downs,
and our efforts to focus on patients with the most urgent health care needs first.
During the nationwide Access Stand Down that took place on February 27, the one-day event resulted in VA reviewing the records of more than 80,000 Veterans to get those waiting for urgent care off wait
lists. 93 percent of Veterans waiting for urgent care were contacted, with many receiving earlier appointments.
VA increased its total clinical work (direct patient care) by 10 percent over the last two years as measured by private sector standards
(relative value units). This increase translates to roughly 20 million additional provider hours of care for our Veterans. He also laid out our efforts
to increase clinical staff, add space and locations in areas where demand is increasing and extend clinic hours into nights and weekends, all of
which have helped increase access to care even as demand for services increases.
Providing Quality Care
Dr. Shulkin discussed independent reports showing good care is being delivered every day at VA including:
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2015 shows that VA delivers high-quality care
for some of the sickest, most complicated patients, finding specifically that VA hospitals had 30-day risk-standardized mortality rates
lower than those of non-VA hospitals for acute myocardial infarction and heart failure.
The Independent Assessment found that VHA health care quality is better on many measures than non-VA providers’ care, VHA
performed the same or significantly better on average than the non-VA provider organizations on 12 of 14 effectiveness measures in the inpatient setting.
It also concluded that, on average, VHA performed significantly better on 16 outpatient Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information
Set (HEDIS) measures of effectiveness compared with commercial health maintenance organizations (HMOs); on the 15 outpatient
HEDIS measures of effectiveness measures with Medicare HMOs.
A 2015 study documented that VA quality in mental health care was better than private sector care by at least 30 percent on each of seven
performance measures. Patients with depression were more than twice as likely to get effective long-term treatment than private sector patients.
Another 2015 study comparing cancer care through VA, Medicare, Medi-Cal and private insurance found that outcomes for VA patients compared favorably to patients with non-VA health insurance.
Moreover, VA patients were generally more likely to receive recommended evidence-based treatment.
Measuring and Improving Patient Satisfaction
Dr. Shulkin shared key data showing patient satisfaction. VA utilized sign-in kiosks at VA facilities all across the country to assess patient
satisfaction with their ability to get their appointment when they wanted it. Eighty-nine percent of Veterans were completely satisfied or satisfied
with their ability to get care when they wanted it. - end -
The Department's Newsletter ends here - we have "the rest of the story".
Innovation and the Way Ahead
Dr. Shulkin talked to Commissioners about the innovations taking place at VHA and some of the changes to come, particularly as we continue to explore and add new ways for Veterans to
connect to their healthcare.
VA has recently developed an app, called Veteran Appointment Request, which allows Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system to both request and directly schedule VA appointments.
The pilot for this app is targeted to begin in late spring. Last Veterans Day, we launched Vets.gov, a centralized website for VA online services.
We will continue to add additional services and functionality through the end of this calendar year.
VA research produces cutting-edge medical and prosthetic breakthroughs that improve the lives of Veterans and others.
The list of accomplishments includes therapies for tuberculosis following World War II, the implantable cardiac pacemaker, CAT scans, functional electrical stimulation systems that allow patients to move paralyzed limbs, the nicotine patch, the first successful liver transplants, the first powered ankle-foot prosthesis, and a vaccine for shingles.
VA researchers also found that one aspirin a day reduces by half the rate of death and nonfatal heart attacks in patients with unstable angina.
Today, we conduct ground-breaking research on spinal cord injuries, the findings of which inform the entire medical community for a population that wouldn't likely get the funding support of non-VA researchers.
VA is also at the forefront of evolving the U.S. health care delivery model toward team-based care through inter-professional education, and developing new capabilities including quality, safety and value, health informatics and analytics, telehealth, to name a few.
VA has been an integral part of health professions education in the country training 70 percent of American doctors.
It is also the largest employer of nurses in the nation.
Importantly, he laid out our ongoing work to adopt best practices from the private sector and focus on enhancing capabilities within VA for services that are not available or as strong in the community.
In 2015, VHA completed 21.3 million appointments in the community.
VA supports local determinations of Veteran needs and provider capabilities.
However, forcing a choice between a community provider or the VA will weaken the ability to develop a truly integrated community based network that can evolve and improve.
A layout of the MyVA Breakthrough Priorities is available here.
Legislation that is needed and has been requested by VA that supports these MyVA Breakthrough Priorities is available here.
END PAGE 10
Group Drafts Secret Proposal to End Taxpayer-Funded Veteran Care
By Suzanne Gordon (Mar 25, 2016)
Deliberations by the Department of Veterans Affairs Commission on Care, the congressionally mandated group planning the future of the Veterans Health Administration, have,
as The American Prospect has reported, become increasingly marred by controversy.
When the 15-member commission met in Washington in mid-March, another furor erupted.
A recently uncovered proposal to privatize the VHA set off a firestorm of protest within the veterans conmrunity.
Several members of the commission leamed that seven of their colleagues had been secretly meeting to draft a proposal to totally eliminate the Veterans Health Administration by 2035 and turn its taxpayer-funded functions over to the private sector.
Those commissioners dubbed the plan “The Strawman Document.”
The authors of the Strawman Document insist that the VHA is so “seriously broken” that “there is no efficient path to repair it.”
Although the commission’s work is supposed to be data-driven and done by the all the commissioners together, the faction meeting independently of the full commission has ignored many of the studies that indicated that treatment at the VHA is often better and more cost-effective than the care available in the private sector.
It is not surprising that the Strawman group has chosen to ignore this research—its members have a vested interest in dismantling the VHA.
The Strawman authors include Darin S. Selnick, a part-time employee of the Koch-funded group Concerned Veterans for America, as well as Stewart M. Hickey, a former leader of Amvets, a group that broke away from a coalition of large veterans service organizations because of its support for Concerned Veterans’ interest in dismantling the VHA.
The Strawman authors acknowledge that private-sector health-care systems do not provide integrated care, high-quality mental-health treatment, or many other specialized services that the VHA currently delivers.
But if the VHA became an insurer - paying the bills instead of providing direct care - it could spend more money trying to “incentivize” providers to give better care in these areas.
Private hospitals would also get federal funding to run what are now VHA Centers of Excellence, which treat epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions veterans face.
Representatives of veterans service organizations (VSOs) believe the secret meetings of the Strawman group may violate the Sunshine and Federal Advisory Committee Acts, as well as the commission’s agreed-upon processes.
The commission had set up working groups to consider key VHA issues.
Unlike the secret Strawman meetings, the subcommittee members were well known by all members and the public.
Meeting times were posted, and discussion minutes were recorded.
The Strawman faction engaged in another end run around their colleagues when they met with Republican Representative Jeff Miller, chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Speaker Paul Ryan.
One representative of a major VSO, who asked not to be identified, observes: “If the authors requested the meeting with the House leadership, that constitutes lobbying.
If they were invited by the House leadership, that constitutes more interference into the commission’s deliberations.
Either way, this meeting, funded by the U.S. taxpayer, was totally inappropriate.”
“The plan does represent a complete deflection of responsibility to subject these men and women to an alternative ‘payer-only’ system of care that not only is ill-equipped to absorb the demand but is also, at best, minimally equipped in terms of expertise and the ability to coordinate such complex care over a veteran's lifetime,” says Sherman Gillums Jr., acting executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Before the Strawman proposal became public, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) launched Setting the Record Straight—a social media campaign against proposals that would privatize some or all of the VHA.
Garry Augustine, DAV’s Washington executive director told the Prospect, “Although we have voiced our views about VA health care for the future, it seems many on the commission are committed to [doing] away with the VA health-care system and turn veterans over to private health care, which we believe would result in uncoordinated and fragmented care for veterans.”
The commission would do far better to consider the views of VA Undersecretary of Health David Shulkin and commission member Phillip Longman.
Shulkin has argued for strengthening the VHA and giving it a more active role in directing and coordinating any care veterans receive in the private-sector system.
Longman believes that the VHA should serve all veterans—not just those with service-related conditions or those who are low-income veterans.
The Department of Florida Newsletter ends here - but your webmaster found an up date to this story - posted below
And just so you know - Suzanne Gordon is a journalist and co-editor of a Cornell University Press series on health-care work and policy issues.
One of her latest books is Beyond the Checklist: What Else Health Care Can Learn from Aviation Teamwork and Safety.
Her website is www.suzannegordon.com.
Webmaster: I do suggest that you go and read her site - loads of good stuff there, and not just about the commission.
Veterans’ Groups: Don’t Scrap the VA’s Health Care System
BY SUZANNE GORDON | MAY 06, 2016
As they meet again in Washington, D.C., this week, the congressionally mandated Commission on Care, tasked with determining a 20-year strategic plan for the Veterans Health Administration,
would do well to heed the voices of veterans and veterans service organizations that it has too often sidelined from its deliberations.
In its April meeting, the commission heard from leaders of the largest veterans service organizations (VSOs) - Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans,
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American, Vietnam Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Got Your Six, and Military Officers Association of America. All of them adamantly rejected the dismantling of the VHA, which had been recommended by seven of the commission members in their so-called Strawman Document.
What the VSO representatives argued for was a program like the one VA Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin has proposed.
Within limits, veterans would be able see private-sector providers who have been vetted by the VHA.
The VHA would still coordinate the care they receive, thus attempting to integrate private-sector providers into a larger VHA network.
What these VSOs do not want is the kind expansion of the current Choice program envisioned in new legislation proposed by Senator John McCain and sponsored by seven other Republicans.
The Permanent Choice Card Act would eliminate current restrictions that limit the program to veterans who cannot get a VHA appointment within 30 days, or who live more than 40 miles from a VHA facility.
Under this bill, any eligible veteran can go anywhere, to any private-sector provider, for any condition.
This would lead to higher costs and, the VSOs fear, to even more limitations on access to services.
Veterans with complex physical and mental conditions would receive no care coordination from the VHA which, given the reality of private-sector health care, would mean no care coordination at all.
As Rick Weidman, executive director for government and policy affairs at Vietnam Veterans of America, explained at the hearing, care coordination is critical because veterans have far more complex problems than the average private-sector patient.
Which is why Weidman also urged commissioners to move beyond anonymous data when estimating future VHA use. Yes, the number of veterans the VHA serves will diminish as World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans die.
The veterans who still use the VHA, however, will be sicker than the average private-sector patient.
Most older adults, for example, have three or more problems, while the average Vietnam veteran, Weidman reminded the commission, has nine to twelve, which are both military - and age-related. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have even more complex conditions.
While some commissioners seemed to be listening, VSO leaders remain concerned about those who persisted in “misunderstanding” their positions, by insisting that VSOs favored removing the current 40-mile or 30-day restrictions on the use of Choice.
On April 29, seven of the VSO leaders wrote a follow-up letter to the commission, making it completely clear what they and their members want: “the development of local integrated community networks in which VA serves as the coordinator and primary provider of health care to veterans; non-VA community care would be integrated into this network to fill gaps and expand access.”
In a letter to sent to the commission, a veteran of the Iraq war put it even more eloquently: “Your solution of sending us to private healthcare providers is the wrong direction. … There is no private health care provider office that can offer me this type of care.
So just fix our VA because it belongs to us not to the private sector.”
Now back to the Department of Florida Newsletter
Reminder All financial disbursements of the chapter must be made by check.
All checks must include the signature of at least two officers.
There should be no debit or credit utilized by the chapter.
Source: National Chapter Officers Guide
END PAGE 11
Operation: Keep the Promise 2016
Operation: Keep the Promise (OKTP) is a yearlong effort to mobilize DAV and supporters behind our legislative agenda.
ln 2016, we will focus on veterans health care reform.
Given the current policy debates about veterans health care. and proposals being put forward, we believe this is a defining moment for Americas veterans.
Many of the ideas for reform have not been clearly defined by the people and organizations espousing them.
So DAV has performed our own analysis of the impact on veterans.
We encourage people to take a deeper look at the current proposals and ask thoughtful questions about how some reform ideas would affect veterans who choose and rely on VA for their care.
We believe that many of these proposals are not good for veterans.
“The real solution for veterans health care is to seamlessly integrate community care into an improved VA system to form local networks that ensure veterans get the best health care,
when and where they need it.”
The Solution To VA Refrom isn't The Private Sector
Handing veterans‘ health care over to the private sector is not the solution to VA’s problems.
Specifics matter when discussing vets’ health care
As this campaign year unfolds, Americas 22 million veterans have reason to be frustrated, perhaps even angry...
Treating the whole veteran
A proposal for reforming veterans health care under discussion would limit the mission of VA health care facilities and clinics to focus only on service-related injuries and illnesses...
Why Privatizing the VA Health Care System is a Bad Idea
Obamacare isn’t the only program at stake in the next election. The future of the nation’s largest health care system — the Veterans Health Administration — is also up for grabs...
"Centers for Excellence" for veterans; far from an excellent idea
Unquestionably, the system for providing healthcare to more than 6 million of Americas 22 million veterans needs to be reformed and strengthened.
But some ideas being put forth will be bad for veterans, including one plan that sounds benign at face value but, upon closer inspection, is revealed to create fewer options for veterans who most need the VA healthcare system.
This proposal would shrink VA healthcare down into a small number of "Centers for Excellence" and move the bulk of veterans’ care into the private sector VA already operates a number of “Centers of Excellence” focused on post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide prevention, prosthetics, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, geriatrics and vision loss, to name a few.
Each of these "Centers for Excellence" is fully integrated with a VA medical center to ensure that veterans have access to a full continuum of physical and mental health care services.
However, some politicians and pundits have proposed downsizing VA from a comprehensive healthcare system to only a smaller number of "Centers for Excellence" that focus only on specical war wounds or service-connected injuries and illnesses like PTSD, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and amputations.
For all other care, veterans would be forced to turn to the private sector.
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Department Membership Program
Thank you for being a member of the Disabled American Veterans.
We are nearing the close of our membership year, and our goal is to have all paid up for life members.
The Department will pay up to $35.00 if you pay the rest to be a full paid life member.
You must take advantage of this offer now, and your payment must be received at department headquarters by June l5th.
Please complete the bottom portion of this letter and return it with your check or credit card.
Thank you for standing up to be counted as a paid up for life member.
AMOUNT of CHECK________________________________________
DEPARTMENT OF FLORIDA, 2015 SW 75TH STREET, GAINESVILLE, FL 32607
Signors of Report to Close all VA Health care Faculties
Those signing the minority report On the VA Commission of Care:
Commissioners David Blom, former president of OhioHealth's central Ohio hospitals;
Toby Cosgrove, CEO of The Cleveland Clinic;
retired Rear Adm. Joyce Johnson, formerly with the U.S. Public Health Service and a former surgeon general of the U.S. Coast Guard;
Darin Selnick, the senior veterans affairs adviser for Concerned Veterans for America;
retired Marine Gen. Martin Steele, associate vice president for Veterans Research,
executive director of Military Partnerships and co-chair of the Veterans Reintegration
Steering Committee at the University of South Florida in Tampa;
Marshall Webster, senior vice president of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center;
retired Marine Corps Maj. Stewart Hickey, national director of AMVETS and former CEO for the Hyndman Area Health Center in Pennsylvania.