Reforming Veterans' Health Care

November 21, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 42
Can the troubled VA system be fixed?
By Tom Price

Introduction

The daughters of former Marine Cecil Valle hold his photo (Getty Images/Laura Segall)
The daughters of former Marine Cecil Valle hold his photo at a forum on veterans' health care sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in Phoenix last May. Before Valle died from prostate cancer on April 4, his illness was misdiagnosed and he experienced long waits for appointments at the Phoenix VA hospital, allowing the cancer to spread, his wife said. Scandal erupted this year when news media reported that VA officials covered up long waits at the facility with bogus appointment logs. (Getty Images/Laura Segall)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling to recover from revelations that some of its facilities forced military veterans to wait months for health care and that some VA officials kept bogus records to conceal the delays. Recently appointed VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald — a West Point graduate and former CEO of consumer-products giant Procter & Gamble — has vowed to streamline the vast department into a more effective organization better able to serve the 6.6 million patients who seek its medical services each year. But critics complain the former paratrooper has been too slow to fire those responsible for the scandals, and they worry that his lack of health care and government experience may prevent him from succeeding. Despite its recent problems, the VA has conducted Nobel Prize-level research and — especially over the last two decades — delivered high-quality care to most of its patients.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Hospitals
Nov. 21, 2014  Reforming Veterans' Health Care
Feb. 10, 2012  Patient Safety
Aug. 13, 1999  Hospitals' Financial Woes
Jul. 18, 1986  For-Profit Hospitals
Nov. 14, 1980  The Hospice Movement
Jan. 16, 1963  Problems of the Hospitals
Nov. 17, 1948  Financial Problems of Voluntary Hospitals
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Conflicts in Asia
Defense Personnel
Hospitals
Middle East Conflicts
Veterans' Services
World War II