Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, Press release, February 12, 2008
An increasing number of military service members and U.S. contractors working abroad are being discriminated against on the job and are left with little ability to hold their employers accountable for it, witnesses told the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions today.
“If a worker is wronged while on the job, then that employee should have every opportunity to be made whole under the law,” said Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), chairman of the subcommittee. “Unfortunately, there are too many loopholes in the law today and we have the responsibility to not allow any instance of discrimination to go unchecked.”
Reserve troops returning home from active duty in places like Iraq and Afghanistan are finding it difficult to get their jobs back, government statistics show. According to a U.S. Defense Department report, more than 33,000 reserve service members from 2001 to 2005 have complained to the agency that their employers failed to give them their jobs back – as required by law – or received a reduction in pay and benefits.
▪ Witness testimonies from hearing
Source: Congressional Budget Office
With the return of veterans having served in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and with a much larger number of veterans from earlier eras turning to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for at least a portion of their health care, the department is now treating over 5 million veterans each year. Many observers have suggested that the quality of that care has been bolstered by advances in health information technology as well as in other areas such as the coordination of care and the management of chronic diseases, which may have implications for other components of the nation’s health care system.
In response to requests from the Chairmen of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has prepared this interim paper that describes the incentives for quality that VA has included in its management system and its uses of health information technology. A final paper, anticipated next year, will consider whether other government or private-sector health systems would benefit from adopting those and other practices by VA. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide impartial analysis, this paper makes no recommendations.
Source: Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission, October 2007
From the press release:
The Commission’s report provides 113 recommendations that would help to ensure that the benefit fairly compensates the service-disabled veterans and their families, as well as help them live with dignity as they rehabilitate and reintegrate into civilian life.
Source: President’s Commission on Care for America’s Wounded Warriors, July 2007
From statement by committee co-chairs Bob Dole and Donna Shalala:
Our report is rooted in the work done by the Commission over the past three months plus the work of other Task Forces and Commissions that have been examining similar issues. This Commission has heard testimony at seven public meetings and has conducted 23 site visits to military bases, VA hospitals and treatment centers across the country. We have heard from experts on providing physical and mental health care, navigating health care and disability evaluation and compensation systems, members of Congress and their staff, and most importantly, service men and women, their families and the health care professionals charged with their care. The Commission is also conducting its own nationwide survey of service men and women and is currently analyzing the data.
As a Commission, we believe that honoring our injured service men and women means:
• Our nation must acknowledge the significant sacrifices of our wounded and injured service members.
• While in most cases service members receive excellent care, the care provided should meet the highest standards of quality.
• Improving the system of care where needed will benefit all veterans for generations to come.
• Our goal is that the care provided heal, to the greatest possible extent, the physical and mental wounds of our service members to enable them to achieve their maximum potential.
• It is imperative that we continue to value the significant contributions of family members in supporting the health and well-being of their loved ones.
Remarks By President Bush in the Oval Office
Source: Steffie Woolhandler, Physicians for a National Health Program, Testimony Presented to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, June 20, 2007
In 2004, 1.8 million military veterans neither had health insurance nor received ongoing care at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals. Note that the surveys asked veterans if they had health insurance, and if they had veterans or military health care. We counted them as uninsured only if they answered no to both questions. The number of uninsured veterans has increased by 290,000 since 2000. The proportion of non-elderly veterans who were uninsured rose from less then one in ten (9.9%) in 2000 to more than one in eight (12.7%) in 2004.
An additional 3.8 million members of veterans’ households were also uninsured and ineligible for VHA care.
Virtually all Korean War and World War II veterans are over age 65 and hence covered by Medicare. However, 645,628 Vietnam-era veterans were uninsured (8.5% of the 7.56 million Vietnam-era vets). Among the 8.6 million veterans who served during “other eras” including the Persian Gulf War, 12.9% (1,105,891) lacked health coverage.
Almost two-thirds (64.3%) of uninsured veterans were employed and nearly nine out of ten (86.4%) had worked within the past year. Most uninsured veterans, like other uninsured Americans were in working families. Many earned too little to afford health insurance, but too much to qualify for free care under Medicaid or VA means testing.
Source: Healther Kleba, Governing, Vol. 20 no. 6, March 2007
A handful of large and small telehealth programs are finding that remote monitoring can curb the costs of long-term care.
Although there are obstacles to widespread use–mostly in terms of upfront costs and patients’ acceptance–the technology is in place and the benefits are becoming clear. While the Alabama program is one of only a handful of experimental state and local efforts, there is already an impressive track record on remote monitoring. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been practicing telehealth for nearly five years, and the results suggest that the program could lower the cost of treating long-term and chronic-care patients. VA officials report that home-care monitoring has been cutting by about one-third the patient-care costs of those who are remotely monitored.
Source: Terry J. Allen, In These Times, Vol. 31 no. 5, May 2007
Soldiers returning from Iraq aren’t receiving their education stipends until it’s too late
…Many veterans who applied under the 1984 Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) say they faced black-hole bureaucracy and college costs that far exceeded benefits….
…Because many colleges require payment upfront, and benefit checks from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) typically arrive months after the semester begins, veterans often have to pony up thousands of dollars in tuition, fees and living expenses to enter school…