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Senator Wyden demands urgent VA reforms after OIG Report

Press Release

Sen. Ron Wyden
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden urged top federal Department of Veterans Affairs officials to act quickly to make the recommended improvements identified in the recent Office of Inspector General’s report on Roseburg VA Health Care System.
Among other issues, Sen. Wyden noted that “Roseburg is operating at 48% of its authorized strength during the VA OIG’s inspection, and even lower in some of Oregon’s rural areas.”
He also expressed his alarm at the lack of suicide prevention measures, noting that Roseburg VA staff failed to complete an evaluation for 57 percent of patients who had a positive suicide risk screen, which is significantly above the OIG’s 10 percent deficiency benchmark.
“The OIG report goes on to document that staff did not notify the suicide prevention team about two patients who reported suicidal behaviors during the evaluation. Concerningly, VA OIG observed that the Roseburg VA Health Care System failed to conduct its required five suicide prevention outreach activities each month,” Wyden wrote. “I recognize that VA leadership attributes these findings to inadequate training and staffing as the reason for Roseburg’s inability to satisfy the stated requirements for reporting and outreach, but these outcomes are unacceptable and ultimately reaffirms the importance of addressing staffing shortages at Roseburg.”
The full “Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection of the Roseburg VA Health Care System in Oregon can be downloaded at the following link. <https://tinyurl.com/4ax9tb2e>

OIG issues 11 Recommendations for Improvement to Roseburg VA Health Care

US Dept. of Veterans Affairs
Office of Inspector General

This Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently concluded a focused evaluation of the quality of care delivered in the inpatient and outpatient settings of the Roseburg VA Health Care System, which includes the Roseburg VA Medical Center and multiple outpatient clinics in Oregon.
This evaluation focused on five key operational areas:
• Leadership and organizational risks
• Quality, safety, and value
• Medical staff privileging
• Environment of care
• Mental health (suicide prevention initiatives)
The OIG issued 11 recommendations for improvement in four areas:
1. Leadership and organizational risks
• Root cause analyses for sentinel events
2. Medical staff privileging
• Focused and Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation completion
• Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluations
o Specialty-specific data
o Equivalent specialized training and similar privileges
• Executive committee review of professional practice evaluation results
• VISN oversight of privileging processes
3. Environment of care
• Panic and over-the-door alarm testing in the mental health inpatient unit
4. Mental health
• Comprehensive Suicide Risk Evaluation completion
• Reporting of suicide behaviors to suicide prevention team
• Suicide prevention outreach activities
To download a copy of the full report, click on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/4ax9tb2e

2024 Oregon Legislative Veteran Bill Digest

The final Veteran’s Bill Digest has been issued for the 2024 Oregon Legislative Session.

As an end of session report, please note that at the top of the first page under the title, a legend is provided regarding the end of session bill status:

Passed = Governor Signed into law

Pending = Awaiting Governor’s Signature

Failed = Bill was not passed by the Legislature

Weekly during Session, ODVA emailed the Veteran Bill Digest to subscribers containing information and links to new and existing bills impacting the veteran community. The entire Session’s Veteran Bill Digests can be viewed and downloaded on ODVA’s legislative webpage.

Please consider passing this communication to those  interested in signing up for next session’s veteran bill digest from ODVA. To subscribe, click here: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORDVA/subscriber/new?topic_id=ORDVA_30

In one of the largest-ever expansions of Veteran health care, all Veterans exposed to toxins and other hazards during military service – at home or abroad – will be eligible for VA health care beginning March 5

US Department of Veterans Affairs
from Press Release

At the direction of President Biden, VA is expanding health care eligibility to millions of Veterans – including all Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other combat zone after 9/11 – years earlier than called for by the PACT Act

The VA has announced that all Veterans who were exposed to toxins and other hazards while serving in the military – at home or abroad – will be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care beginning March 5, 2024. This means that all Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror, or any other combat zone after 9/11 will be eligible to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits. Additionally, Veterans who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty in the United States will also be eligible to enroll.

As directed by President Biden, this expansion of VA health care eliminates the phased-in approach called for by the PACT Act – meaning that millions of Veterans are becoming eligible for VA health care up to eight years earlier than written into law. This is a critical step forward because Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care are proven to have better health outcomes than non-enrolled Veterans, and VA hospitals have dramatically outperformed non-VA hospitals in overall quality ratings and patient satisfaction ratings. Additionally, VA health care is often more affordable than non-VA health care for Veterans.

VA encourages all eligible Veterans to visit VA.gov/PACT or call 1-800-MYVA411 to learn more and apply for VA health care beginning March 5. Since President Biden signed the PACT Act into law on August 10, 2022, more than 500,000 Veterans have enrolled in VA health care.

“If you’re a Veteran who may have been exposed to toxins or hazards while serving our country, at home or abroad, we want you to come to us for the health care you deserve,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “VA is proven to be the best, most affordable health care in America for Veterans – and once you’re in, you have access for life. So don’t wait, enroll starting March 5th.”

“Beginning March 5, we’re making millions of Veterans eligible for VA health care years earlier than called for by the PACT Act,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal, M.D. “With this expansion, VA can care for all Veterans who served in the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Global War on Terror, or any other combat zone after 9/11. We can also care for Veterans who never deployed but were exposed to toxins or hazards while training or on active duty here at home – by working with chemicals, pesticides, lead, asbestos, certain paints, nuclear weapons, x-rays, and more. We want to bring all of these Veterans to VA for the care they’ve earned and deserve.”

In addition to expanding access to VA care, this decision makes it quicker and easier for millions of Veterans to enroll. Many Veterans believe they must apply to receive VA disability compensation benefits to become eligible for VA health care, but this is not correct. With this expansion and other authorities, millions of eligible Veterans can enroll directly in VA care – without any need to first apply for VA benefits.

This expansion of care covers Vietnam Veterans, Gulf War Veterans, Iraq War Veterans, Afghanistan War Veterans, Veterans who deployed in support of contingency operations for the Global War on Terror (Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Resolute Support Mission), and more.

This expansion also covers many Veterans who never deployed as a part of a conflict but were exposed to toxins or hazards while serving in the U.S. Specifically, under this expansion of care, any Veteran who participated in a toxic exposure risk activity (TERA) – at home or abroad – is eligible for VA health care. VA has determined that Veterans who were exposed to one or more of the following hazards or conditions during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training participated in a TERA: air pollutants (burn pits, sand, dust, particulates, oil well fires, sulfur fires); chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, depleted uranium with embedded shrapnel, contaminated water); occupational hazards (asbestos, industrial solvents, lead, paints including chemical agent resistant coating, firefighting foams); radiation (nuclear weapons handling, maintenance and detonation, radioactive material, calibration and measurement sources, X-rays, radiation from military occupational exposure); warfare agents (nerve agents, chemical and biological weapons); and more. VA will use all available information to determine if Veterans participated in a TERA, including military records and service connection.

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