Military Connection: VA Takes Steps to Improve Care: By Debbie Gregory

VA stepsOn Thursday, October 2, 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the MITRE Corporation has been awarded a contract to support the Independent Assessment of VA health care processes, as required by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. The MITRE Corporation operates multiple federally funded research and development centers. This is a substantial contract for the not-for-profit company, which will serve as program integrator.

Section 201 of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 directs the VA to enter into one or more independent, third-party contracts for an assessment of the hospital care, medical services and other health care processes in VA medical facilities. The program integrator, MITRE Corporation, will be responsible for coordinating the outcomes of the assessments conducted by the third-party entities, according to the scope of the contracts. The program integrator is also required to report the independent assessment results to Congress within 60 days of the assessment’s conclusion.

Working with legislators, Veterans Service Organizations, and other Veteran advocacy groups, the VA and its secretary, Robert McDonald, have taken the following measures in support of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014:

  • Working through the contracting process to extend the pilot program, called Project ARCH, to ensure the continuation of expanded access for Veterans in rural areas provided by that program.
  • Establishing a Program Management office to oversee the planning and implementation of  legislation across the department.
  • Putting in place the mechanisms to execute the outlined facilities with the authorization provided to carry out major medical facility leases.
  • Organizing an “Industry Day” to seek input on how best to provide administrative support, including issuing Veteran Choice Cards.

“This independent assessment is a key element in our effort to rebuild trust with Veterans and our other stakeholders,” McDonald said.  “It will provide the Department a way to transparently review our vital programs, organizations, and business practices to make us a better and more accountable VA for the Veterans we serve.”

It appears that after a long year filled with scandals and media backlashes, the VA healthcare system is in the process of taking major steps in the right direction. By implementing these first measures towards the accountability of employees and improved care for Veterans, the VA is becoming the entity that they are intended to be… the one that Veterans and their families deserve.

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Military Connection: VA Takes Steps to Improve Care: By Debbie Gregory