The VA may be on the brink of wearing a new and unfamiliar hat: policy trailblazer.
The department is considering "scope of practice" reforms that would allow VA nurses to work outside the direct supervision of doctors. If the agency follows through, it could become a leader in the occupational licensing arena and spur state governments to follow suit.
Occupational licensing has garnered increased attention as it has become clear that requiring individuals to obtain government licenses in order to work in certain fields hurts both would-be workers and consumers. State and local governments require licenses for a whole host of jobs, from florists to dental hygienists to hair braiders.
While licenses can make sense in some industries, in general they block lower-income individuals from entering the workforce while also increasing the prices consumers pay for goods and services. read more
President-elect Donald Trump is leaning on a once-obscure group backed by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch as he seeks to make good on a campaign promise to overhaul veterans' care programs he has denounced as a tragic failure. Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), founded just four years ago, has little connective tissue with other veterans groups, whose membership-heavy organizations have long dominated policy discussions in Washington. The leading candidates to run the sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs, the second-largest federal agency, have close ties to the group. Traditional veterans advocates are alarmed by CVA's rising profile in Trump's orbit and in Congress. They reject its highest-profile proposal, to allow veterans to see doctors of their choosing outside VA medical system. read more
"Victory Lane," a new book by Cathy Lueers of Hampton, borrows its title from the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's hospice unit in O'Hara. Lueers' dad -- Korean War veteran Ron Bleiler -- died in the unit on Thanksgiving Day 2015 at age 82.
"He went out in victory with the care of wonderful nurses and chaplains," Lueers said. "There were so many miracles along the way."
With gratitude for her father's care, Lueers, 52, subsequently wrote and self-published "Victory Lane" to honor him.
Lueers, a mother of four, also wrote the book to aid loved ones of others seeking health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. read more
The US Veterans Affairs Administration is the largest provider of hepatitis C care in the United States. Approximately 174,000 veterans who receive care through its clinics had been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection by 2013 and a further 45,000 were estimated to be undiagnosed.
As part of a larger analysis of treatment patterns within the VA system, George Ioannou and colleagues examined the annual uptake of treatment. They found that 57,445 people have been cured of HCV in the VA system since 1999.
Almost half of these patients 28,084 were cured in 2015, and almost half of all people cured in the VA system in 2015 began treatment in August and September of that year. read more
According to the campaign talk of President-elect Donald Trump, it's just a matter of time before Obamacare, as the ACA is more commonly known, is repealed and replaced.
Perhaps the biggest issue with Trumpcare is that there's nothing stated in his plan about how he'd deal with the roughly 21 million people currently receiving federal assistance via Obamacare's Advanced Premium Tax Credit, cost-sharing reductions, or Medicaid expansion.
It's possible that these estimated 21 million people could lose their health coverage if Trump's healthcare plan becomes law.
That's terrible news for insurers like Anthem, which specifically angled their business to court Medicaid expansion enrollees, and hospitals like HCA Holdings, which have benefited from setting aside less money for doubtful revenue collection thanks to lower uninsured rates. If uninsured rates rise, uncollected revenue is likely to rise for hospitals, too. read more