VA HEALTHCARE COMPARABLE TO PRIVATE HOSPITALS

Veterans receive the same or better care at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities as patients at non-VA hospitals according to a recent RAND Corp. study.

“The RAND study adds to a growing list of research confirming what many veterans and VA employees believe – VA provides high-quality care,” said VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. “We are constantly striving to improve our care at VA, but this should encourage veterans and the public that VA care is in many instances as good as or better than the private sector.”

The study, which was published online April 25, compared each VA facility to three non-VA facilities with similar geographic settings (rural/urban,) size (number of beds) and complexity of care. The analysis focused on three of the six “Domains of Quality of Care” as defined by the Institute of Medicine, (now known as the National Academy of Medicine) including safety, effectiveness and patient-centered care.

The authors of the RAND study analyzed inpatient and outpatient performance measures used by VA and non-VA hospitals. On inpatient care, VA hospitals performed on average the same or significantly better than non-VA hospitals on 21 of 26 measures. VA performed significantly better than commercial and Medicaid Health Maintenance Organizations on 28 of 30 measures, with no difference on the other two. There was a wide variation in performance across VA, but an even wider variation among the non-VA hospitals.

For more information, see the quality data available on VA’s Access to Care website at www.accesstocare.va.gov.

NEW CLAIMS DECISION REVIEW PROCESS

Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced it is offering two opportunities for early participation in the new, more efficient claims decision review process outlined in the historic Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017.

These two opportunities will allow eligible veterans to receive a review of a decision on a claim much faster than the current appeals process.

“VA is committed to transforming the appeals process,” said VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This is evidenced by the success of Rapid Appeals Modernization Program which has seen over 12,000 veterans opt-in.  In addition, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals has issued approximately 46,000 decisions this fiscal year – nearly 23,000 more decisions than last year at this time. We are on pace to reach a historical fiscal goal of 81,000 decisions.”

First, VA will expand the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program by removing the requirement that Veterans first receive an invitation from VA in order to elect participation in the program.

RAMP, which was initially launched in November 2017 as an invitation only program, allows eligible veterans with a disability compensation appeal early access to the Higher-Level Review and Supplemental Claim Lanes outlined in the Appeals Modernization Act. As of March 31, RAMP reviews were completed in an average of 52 days.

Second, in May, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals will launch its Early Applicability of Appeals Modernization (BEAAM) pilot project. Under this project, the Board will partner with the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the California Department of Veterans Affairs to identify 50 veterans who are dissatisfied with a recent decision on their benefits claim.

These veterans will participate in a study that allows them the option of appealing directly to the Board or seeking a review in RAMP.  In this study, the Board will collect preliminary data about veteran choices and experiences.

In October, the Board will begin deciding appeals from RAMP decisions using the features of the Appeals Modernization Act, specifically its new, separate Direct, Evidence and Hearing dockets.

The expansion of RAMP, combined with the BEAAM, will allow VA to collect valuable data about implementation of the Appeals Modernization Act.

The briefs above are complied from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs releases. For more information about the VA, visit www.va.gov.