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- Blog: VA Secretary McDonald warns of next crisis in veterans healthcare
- SANTA CLARA, CALIF.—Congress would “help create another crisis" in veterans healthcare if it doesn't approve the president's full budget request for the Veterans Affairs Department, VA Secretary Robert McDonald said Friday.
McDonald also announced a new 11-member Special Medical Advisory Group, headed by HCA's Dr. Jonathan Perlin, to advise the department on healthcare matters.
Earlier this month, a House Appropriations subcommittee cut more than $1.4 billion from the president's request—a move that would mean the elimination of funding for four major VA construction projects and 70,000 fewer veterans receiving VA medical care.
“The president's budget needs to be put in place so we can meet the demand for the laws that have already been passed,” McDonald said.
McDonald's comments, made to reporters at the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Santa Clara, Calif., were similar to those he made before the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday.
McDonald attributed the scandal the VA faced in 2014 to pressure on the system from aging Vietnam veterans. The VA has made much progress, he said, in fixing those issues—completing more appointments and reducing its electronic wait list—but the VA must prepare now for future increased demand for services from Afghanistan and Iraq veterans.
The VA will face another crisis if it doesn't prepare for that demand now, he said.
“The VA is the canary in the coal mine,” McDonald said. “We learn about the problems in American medicine before American medicine.”
McDonald named Perlin, chief medical officer and president of clinical services for HCA, to chair a reconstituted federally chartered committee to help the department on issues related to healthcare delivery, research, education, staff training and shared-care planning.
Other members are:
- Dr. Karen Guice, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and principal deputy director for Tricare management activity
- Joy Ilem, deputy national legislative director of Disabled American Veterans
- Dr. Thomas Lee, chief medical officer for Press Ganey
- Dr. Ralph Snyderman, former president and CEO of the Duke University Health System
- Dr. Jennifer Daley, a senior adviser for consulting firm Cambridge Management Group
- Dr. James Henry Martin, who practices emergency medicine and primary-care medicine at Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, Ill., and Metro South Medical Center in Blue Island, Ill.
- Melvin Shipp, dean emeritus at the College of Optometry for Ohio State University
- Dr. James Weinstein, CEO and president of academic health system Dartmouth Hitchcock
- Deborah Trautman, CEO for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
- Dr. Bruce Siegel, president and CEO of America's Essential Hospitals