To Improve Health Care For Veterans, VA Looks At Closing Hospitals
One hospital per State?
Does the Department of Veterans Affairs need a BRAC round?
A board to move and close unneeded hospitals — such as the military system to shutter old bases — is one of the recommendations in a landmark independent review of the VA released Friday.
The long-awaited report mandated by Congress found an agency plagued by problems of leadership and bureaucracy while also struggling to provide uniform, high-quality health care. It determined that radical changes might be needed for the agency’s Health Administration to emerge from its ongoing crisis.
Lawmakers ordered up the review last summer at the height of the VA’s scandal over manipulation of patient wait times at hospitals and clinics across the country. The report, dated Sept. 1, was written by the federally funded group CMS Alliance to Modernize Healthcare and posted Friday morning to the VA website.
Teams conducting the review “consistently found that VHA’s health care facilities deliver strikingly different patient experiences, apply inconsistent business processes, and differ widely on key measures of performance and efficiency.”
The review also said the health care system is “plagued by many problems: growing bureaucracy, leadership and staffing challenges, and an unsustainable trajectory of capital costs.”
Such findings track with myriad audits and media reports over the past 18 months that have documented widespread VA dysfunction. The wait-time manipulation, which led to the resignation of then-VA secretary Eric Shinseki, began the turmoil in 2014 and snowballed into the biggest scandal in the agency’s history.
The review makes some bold recommendations for turning the VA around.
Congress should create a governance board to guide the new VA strategy. The board could also reshape the agency’s geographic footprint, moving or closing hospitals to better serve veteran health care needs, similar to the Base Realignment and Closure process, it said.