Rep. McNerney’s Thoughts on Changing the VA Health Care System

June 30, 2014

As an advocate for our region’s veterans, I was invited by Veterans Committee Chairman Jeff Miller to a recent hearing in which impartial witnesses testified about the problems with the VA Health Care System, and I want to update the residents of my district about what I learned at the hearing.

I was very pleased that the hearing took a truly bipartisan approach to understanding the problems at the VA and what might be done to improve the situation.

The disturbing revelations of dysfunction at the VA Health Care System can be an opportunity to transform that system into one that truly serves veterans, if we follow some simple recommendations like these:

  1. Most VA Health Care employees are hard-working and dedicated, but employees must remember that they work for veterans as opposed to working for the VA.
  2. We must work to standardize practices at VA Health facilities to insure high quality care for all.
  3. VA health care is too focused on procedures and not focused enough on results. We should measure success by good health outcomes, not on checking off boxes that certain procedures have been followed.
  4. The VA must be more proactive about scheduling patients. Patients can be called, texted, emailed, given directions, and offered help to come in. These steps will help make sure VA physicians see as many patients as they can.
  5. The VA should initiate pre- and post-visit phone calls to make sure veterans are prepared for their visits and understand their treatments.
  6. The VA must work harder to facilitate the secure transfer of patient records between the VA and private providers.
  7. Veteran patients should be enabled to suggest improvements that have actual impacts in the quality of VA Health Care.