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Employment Situation of Veterans 2014

March 20, 2015 Comments off

Employment Situation of Veterans 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001–a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans–declined by 1.8 percentage points over the year to 7.2 percent in 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The jobless rate for all veterans, at 5.3 percent, also declined from a year earlier. In addition, 29 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported having a service-connected disability in August 2014, compared with 16 percent of all veterans.

Federal Practitioner 2015 Directory: VA and DoD Healthcare Facilities

March 18, 2015 Comments off

Federal Practitioner 2015 Directory: VA and DoD Healthcare Facilities
Source: Federal Practitioner

This is a comprehensive directory of DoD and VA health facilities, including a Veterans Integrated Service Network Guide and a Tricare Region Guide. Detailed contact information — including URLs for facility websites — is available, and hospital leadership and department heads are listed by name.

You can print pages from the directory, but you cannot download or print the whole thing as a single document.

free registration required2

Audit of VHA’s Home Telehealth Program

March 10, 2015 Comments off

Audit of VHA’s Home Telehealth Program
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans, Office of Inspector General

The goal of the Home Telehealth Program is to improve veterans’ access to care while reducing patient treatment costs. The program does this by remotely monitoring patients’ vital signs in the home and intervening early when adverse trends are detected. We determined how effectively the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is managing its Home Telehealth Program. VHA missed opportunities to expand enrollment for Non-Institutional Care (NIC) patients in the Home Telehealth Program. NIC telehealth patients showed the best outcomes, in terms of reduced inpatient admissions and bed days of care (BDOC). In FY 2013, the number of NIC patients-served declined by 4 percent, while the number of Chronic Care Management (CCM) and Health Promotion/Disease Prevention (HPDP) patients-served grew 51 and 37 percent, respectively.

The significant change in the mix of patients receiving care in this program occurred due to a change in the performance methodology. VHA began to measure program performance by the total number of patients-enrolled, rather than focusing on the increase in enrollment for NIC patients. This change in performance metrics encouraged VHA to enroll more HPDP participants. These participants would likely need less intervention from Primary Care physicians, because their health care needs would be less complex. VHA was successful in reaching its new performance metric. However, obtaining this goal did not result in more patients with the greatest medical needs receiving care under the program. As a result, VA missed opportunities to serve additional NIC patients that could have benefited from the Home Telehealth Program. VA could have potentially delayed the need for long-term institutional care for approximately 59,000 additional veterans in FY 2013.

Strengthening Collaborations With the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Effectiveness Research on Mind and Body Interventions

February 23, 2015 Comments off

Strengthening Collaborations With the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Effectiveness Research on Mind and Body Interventions
Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
From press release:

The feasibility of conducting larger-scale research studies on nondrug approaches for pain management in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should be assessed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This recommendation was delivered in a report by a working group of the Center’s Advisory Council.

“Chronic pain is a major public health problem that affects more than 100 million Americans, and research shows that it may disproportionately affect military personnel and Veterans,” said Lloyd Michener, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; chair of the working group. “The high rates of chronic pain in the military and Veteran populations are alarming. New strategies for managing this widespread condition are urgently needed.”

The working group recommended that the proposed research should:

  • Assess the impact of pain on patient function and quality of life as primary outcome measures, with changes in the use of opioids and other drugs as a secondary outcome;
  • Evaluate an integrated package of nondrug treatments, an integrative model of care, or a holistic approach to care rather than focusing on individual complementary health approaches;
  • Focus on patients in the early stages of chronic pain;
  • Leverage natural experiments and existing resources whenever possible; and
  • Be pragmatic and embedded in the delivery of care.

In-state tuition policies under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act

February 23, 2015 Comments off

In-state tuition policies under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

Ensuring access and affordability to a postsecondary education for veterans and their dependents has long been a focus of federal and state education policy. Developing policy to support educational attainment among these individuals has required state policymakers to address residency requirements for veterans to determine eligibility for in-state tuition benefits. Yet recent revisions to federal statute — changes that go into full effect in July 2015 — have shifted the policy landscape in a significant and meaningful way.

Beginning July 1, 2015, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (Choice Act) requires that all public postsecondary institutions offer in-state tuition rates to qualified veterans and their dependents, regardless of state residency status. This ECS Policy Analysis provides state and postsecondary leaders with a review of the Choice Act requirements, key information on deadlines, considerations for evaluating state policy for compliance and examples of policy actions.

CRS — Health Care for Veterans: Suicide Prevention (January 30, 2015)

February 9, 2015 Comments off

Health Care for Veterans: Suicide Prevention
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report focuses on suicide prevention activities of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VHA’s approach to suicide prevention is based on a public health framework, which has three major components: (1) surveillance, (2) risk and protective factors, and (3) interventions.

Audit of VHA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans

February 5, 2015 Comments off

Audit of VHA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (the Call Center) is VA’s primary vehicle for communicating the availability of VA homeless programs and services to veterans and community providers. OIG has assessed the effectiveness of the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans in helping veterans obtain needed homeless services.

We determined that Homeless and at-risk veterans (Homeless Veterans) who contacted the Call Center often experienced problems either accessing a counselor and/or receiving a referral after completing the Call Center’s intake process. Of the estimated 79,500 Homeless Veterans who contacted the Call Center in fiscal year (FY) 2013: Just under 21,200 (27 percent) could only leave messages on an answering machine—counselors were unavailable to take calls; almost 13,000 (16 percent) could not be referred to VA medical facilities—their messages were inaudible or lacked contact information; and approximately 3,300 (4 percent) were not referred to VA medical facilities, despite having provided all the necessary information.

Referred Homeless Veterans did not always receive the services needed because the Call Center did not follow up on referrals to medical facilities. Of the approximately 51,500 referrals made in FY 2013, the Call Center provided no feedback or improvements to ensure the quality of the homeless services. We noted that 85 percent of the 60 veterans’ records we reviewed lacked documentation to prove the veterans had received needed support services.

Finally, the Call Center closed just under 24,200 (47 percent) referrals even though the VA medical facilities had not provided the Homeless Veterans any support services. In total, we identified 40,500 missed opportunities where the Call Center either did not refer the Homeless Veterans’ calls to medical facilities or it closed referrals without ensuring Homeless Veterans had received needed services from VA medical facilities.

We recommended the Interim Under Secretary for Health stop the use of the answering machine, implement effective Call Center performance metrics to ensure Homeless Veterans receive needed services, and establish controls to ensure the proper use of Call Center special purpose funds. The Interim Under Secretary for Health concurred with our recommendations and provided responsive action plans. We will follow up on these actions.

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