Federal Health Care News



The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has presented the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees with the administration’s draft proposal of the Veterans Coordinated Access & Rewarding Experiences (CARE) Act.

This proposed bill is designed to improve veterans’ experiences with and access to health care, building on the best features of VA’s existing community care programs and strengthening VA’s ability to furnish care in its facilities. 

The bill’s goals are:

The bill would replace the current wait-time and distance eligibility criteria under the Choice Program (“30-day/40-mile”) with criteria that:

The CARE Act also includes: 

More information about access to care at the VA can be found at https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/



The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established a search commission to help identify candidates for the position of VA Under Secretary for Benefits. 

The Under Secretary for Benefits is the senior official within the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) that oversees a variety of benefits and services to service members, veterans and their families.

Search commission candidates will be selected based on criteria governed by law along with appropriate skills, knowledge and attributes as leaders, managers and educators.  The commission is a prerequisite to the President’s appointment of an Under Secretary candidate, subject to Senate confirmation.

By law, the appointment is made without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of demonstrated ability both in fiscal management and in the administration of programs of VBA or of similar content and scope.

VBA includes a network of 56 regional offices and more than 21,800 employees. Nearly four million veterans currently receive compensation for disabilities incurred in service or pensions for wartime veterans who become totally disabled in civilian life.  In addition, more than half a million widows, children and parents of deceased veterans are paid survivor compensation or death pensions.

Other programs administered by the Under Secretary for Benefits include: education benefits, vocational rehabilitation and employment for veterans, and life insurance, as well as VA guaranteed home loans for both active-duty personnel and veterans.

The commission, once named, is expected to complete its work by December 1.  To apply for this job, go to https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/481447500


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the formation of the Veterans’ Family, Caregiver, and Survivor Federal Advisory Committee as part of VA Secretary David Shulkin’s commitment to supporting our nation’s veterans and those who care for them.

The new Committee will be chaired by former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, a noted advocate for military caregivers, and the founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the Hidden Heroes Campaign, both of which regularly collaborate with the VA on issues related to military caregiving.

The Committee will advise the Secretary, through the chief veterans experience officer, on matters related to veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors across all generations, relationships, and veteran status.  The committee will focus on gaining a better understanding of the use of VA care and benefits services, and factors that influence access, quality and accountability for those services. A key element of the committee’s work will be to engage veteran family members, research experts, and family service providers as a way to better understand their needs and identify ways VA can continue to support them in the best possible way.

Serving alongside Senator Dole on the committee will be Mr. Sherman Gillums (Vice Chair), Ms. Mary Buckler, Ms. Bonnie Carroll, Ms. Melissa Comeau, Ms. Harriet Dominique, Ms. Jennifer Dorn, Ms. Ellyn Dunford, Dr. Robert Koffman,  Lt. Gen. (U.S. Army, Ret.) Mike Linnington, Mr. Joe Robinson, Ms. Elaine Rogers, Brig. Gen. (U.S. Army, Ret) Dr. Loree Sutton, Mr. Francisco Urena, Ms. Shirley White, Ms. Lee Woodruff, and Ms. Lolita Zinke.


CBS News reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general is reviewing VA Secretary David Shulkin's 10-day trip to Europe in July, during which Shulkin and his wife spent time shopping and sightseeing in Denmark and the U.K.

While the overall purpose of the trip to Denmark and the United Kingdom was focused on veterans’ issues, CBS reports Shulkin and his wife also visited Westminster Abbey and Wimbledon, devoting significant time to leisure activities paid for by U.S. government dollars.

Shulkin announced in a statement last week that the VA would be posting all official travel taken since January 20th on the VA website at https://www.va.gov/opa/secvatravel/.

The itinerary uploaded to the website details conferences on veterans’ policy and meetings with various government officials but also time carved out of his schedule for extracurricular activities.

The website also notes that Shulkin has not used a private aircraft to date. Curt Cashour, VA Press Secretary told CBS News in a statement, "The Secretary welcomes the IG looking into his travel, and a good place to start would be VA's website where the VA posted his full foreign travel itineraries, along with any travel on government or private aircraft."


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has selected Delta Dental of California and MetLife to once again offer private dental insurance plans as part of the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP).

The program was extended until Dec. 31, 2021, by the VA Dental Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2016.

Veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system and beneficiaries of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA) can enroll in the program beginning Nov. 15, 2017, for coverage to start Dec. 1, 2017.

VADIP offers eligible individuals the opportunity to purchase discounted dental insurance coverage, including diagnostic services, preventive services, endodontic and other restorative services, surgical services and emergency services.

Individuals who enroll in one of the dental insurance plans will pay the entire premium in addition to the full cost of any copayments. Enrollment is voluntary and does not affect eligibility for VA outpatient dental services and treatment. 

The plans are available to eligible individuals in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Delta Dental and MetLife previously offered insurance plans as part of the three-year VADIP pilot program. Coverage under the VADIP pilot began Jan. 1, 2013, and more than 115,000 Veterans and CHAMPVA beneficiaries enrolled in the program before it expired in January 2017. Individuals who enrolled in a plan during the pilot period must select and enroll in one of the new plans offered by Delta Dental or MetLife. While the insurance providers will remain the same, plan options, fees and other factors may have changed from those offered during the pilot.

For more information, visit www.va.gov/HEALTHBENEFITS/vadip/ or call 877-222-VETS (8387).


The Association of VA Hematology and Oncology (AVAHO) and the National Association of Veterans’ Research and Education Foundations (NAVREF) have formed an alliance to help promote VA sites and clinicians to the clinical trials industry while creating a more efficient process from identification of appropriate study sites to smoother study implementation.

AVAHO is a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing a forum for interaction with Hematology/Oncology professionals who are dedicated to caring for our nation’s veterans. 

Formed in 1992, the National Association of Veterans' Research and Education Foundations (NAVREF) is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization of research and education foundations affiliated with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers.



The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is awarding up to $8 million in grants for adaptive sports programs that will benefit disabled veterans as well as disabled members of the armed forces.

Grant recipients may use the funds for planning, developing, managing and implementing adaptive sports programs.

VA is awarding the grants to national governing bodies, which prepare high-level athletes for Paralympic competition; veterans service organizations; city and regional municipalities; and other community groups to provide a wide range of adaptive sports opportunities for eligible veterans and service members. The grants will support activities ranging from kayaking, sailing, cycling, skiing, equine therapy and equestrian sports, among other activities.

VA will distribute the grants to 96 national, regional and community programs serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Approximately 10,000 Veterans and service members are expected to benefit.

Information about the awardees and details of the program may be found at www.va.gov/adaptivesports.


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that Rory A. Cooper, founder and director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a collaboration between the VA’s Pittsburgh Health Care System and the University of Pittsburgh, received a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal at a ceremony Washington, D.C.

The awards — known as the Sammies — are given by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service to recognize the accomplishments of federal civil servants. Cooper is the recipient of the Science and Environment Medal.

Cooper is being honored for his work designing innovative wheelchairs and other assistive technologies, which have markedly improved the mobility and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Veterans and other people with disabilities. He led innovations that include a wheelchair with robotic arms and hands that can grasp, personal vehicles enabling people to access terrain that could not be handled by normal wheelchairs, and manual wheelchairs with more comfortable and adjustable seats.

Cooper, an Army veteran injured while serving, has dedicated his career to improving the mobility and quality of life for people with disabilities. Cooper and his team are credited with 25 patents that have advanced wheelchair technology.

A selection committee that included leaders from government, business, the nonprofit community, academia, and the entertainment and news media selected Cooper and six other winners, from 26 finalists and more than 440 nominees.

The awards ceremony will be streamed live this evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. (EST) and can be viewed on the Partnership for Public Service’s Facebook page.

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