Act Now to Protect Veterans' Health Care

Our military veterans put their lives on the line to defend this country and our way of life. In return, we owe them much – including the highest quality and best health care. Unfortunately, the U.S. Veterans Administration has proposed action that weaken that standard. The Texas Medical Association is calling on you to join physicians around the country in taking action of our own to protect our veterans’ health care. As you may have heard, the VA last month published a proposed rule that would allow APRNs — nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists — to practice independently within the VA health system. While this doesn't change state scope-of-practice laws for APRNs working outside the VA system, it overrides those laws for care being provided inside the VA.

Please take a few minutes to tell VA officials that we must maintain physician leadership of our veterans’ health care team. 
Read more

 


TMA Wants to Ensure Veterans Get Timely Care

We're Giving Our Veterans Unacceptable Care
It’s an eight-hour drive from the Rio Grande Valley to my office here in Abilene. It takes just as long for someone to drive from Abilene to Albuquerque, New Mexico. And that’s just part of the problem that military veterans here in Texas face when they try to get health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ― the VA.

We’ve all read and heard about the long waits our veterans must endure to see a doctor. A VA audit found that nearly 60,000 new patients nationwide waited up to three months for care. In Texas facilities, the average wait time for a new patient to get a primary care appointment ranged from 31 days in Amarillo to 85 in Harlingen and McAllen. “It was worse for specialty care patients at clinics in Harlingen and McAllen, where the wait was 145 days — the longest in the nation,” the San Antonio Express-News reported.  
Read more

 


Frustration in Caring for Veterans

One Texas Surgeon's Story
In the wake of the access-to-care crisis at the Veterans Administration, Baytown surgeon Monira Hamid-Kundi, MD, shares her frustration with caring for veterans in the emergency department.

 

 

 


 

TMA Caring for Veterans Articles

VA Quagmire Persists: Veterans Still Wait for Care, While Physicians Wait on Payment
Ongoing U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs roadblocks mean  veterans still end up on long waiting lists to get care, and the physicians treating them end up on long waiting lists to get paid. (Texas Medicine, June 1, 2016)

 TMA: Veterans Choice Program is Not Working
Statement of Texas Medical Association President Austin I. King, MD, in response to today’s Associated Press report of continued lengthy delays for Texans seeking care from Veterans Affairs health clinics.

Identification and Management of Suicide Risk in U.S. Military Veterans
Suicide is a devastating outcome of major public health importance. In the United States, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death across all ages and the seventh leading cause of death in males. Suicide rates vary considerably across population subgroups. U.S. military veterans may have an increased risk of suicide compared with the general population. Veterans represent around 10 percent of U.S. adults but account for 20 percent of completed suicides, and approximately 18 to 22 veterans die from suicide each day. In addition, a considerable body of research suggests an increased risk for suicide among veterans seeking services from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The increased risk for suicide among veterans has recently captured tremendous public attention and led the VA to declare the prevention of suicide to be a major national priority. The VA has launched comprehensive suicide prevention efforts and has collaborated with the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a clinical practice guideline based on best available evidence and expert consensus. This article discusses considerations for suicide risk assessment and intervention, mostly derived from the VA/DoD clinical practice guideline. It also briefly reviews the VA suicide prevention program and the importance of veteran suicide risk assessment in primary care settings. 

Reporting for Duty
As Congress and the embattled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs work to resolve overwhelming backlogs in medical care for the nation's veterans, TMA and physicians across the state are enlisting to stand in the gap and help alleviate the documented access-to-care problems. TMA was one of the first state medical societies to establish a registry of private-sector doctors willing to see veteran patients. 

Congress Passes VA Overhaul
On Thursday, Congress approved a widespread overhaul of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). TMA has been calling on the nation's leaders to clear existing bureaucratic landmines — slow payment and lack of interaction between the VA and the private sector, for instance — so private-sector physicians can help get veterans the timely care they need.