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Update for July 11, 2016

Veterans Commission on Care report released

Last week after 10+ months of public hearings, investigation, work, discussion and deliberation the congressionally created Commission on Care issued its final report on how the nation should transform veterans’ health care.

To the surprise of many the Commission’s conclusions were on improving and reforming VA healthcare (with a special emphasis its specialty areas of medicine) rather than calling for further privatization.

The 15 member Commission were diverse and knowledgeable.

Nancy M. Schlichting, Chairperson (“Nancy Schlichting is Chief Executive Officer of Henry Ford Health System (HFHS), a nationally recognized $4.7 billion health care organization with 23,000 employees. She is recipient of the 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, 2011 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety Quality Award, and 2004 Foster G. McGaw Award. She is credited with leading the health system through a dramatic financial turnaround and for award-winning patient safety, customer service, and diversity initiatives”);Delos M. (Toby) Cosgrove, MD, Vice Chairperson (“Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of Cleveland Clinic, presides over a $6.2 billion health care system comprising Cleveland Clinic, eight community hospitals, 16 family health and ambulatory surgery centers, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Cleveland Clinic Toronto, and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. His leadership has emphasized patient care and patient experience, including the reorganization of clinical services into patient-centered, organ- and disease-based institutes. He launched major wellness initiatives for patients, employees, and communities. Under his leadership, Cleveland Clinic has consistently been named among America’s top four hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and is one of only two hospitals named among America’s 99 Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute”),Michael A. Blecker (Michael Blecker has been associated with Swords to Plowshares since 1976 and has served as Executive Director since 1982. The agency was started in 1974 by returning Vietnam veterans and VISTA volunteers assigned to the VA regional office in San Francisco.) David P. Blom (David Blom has been instrumental in the development and growth of the OhioHealth system. He has served as President of OhioHealth’s central Ohio hospitals—Grant Medical Center, Riverside Methodist Hospital, and Doctors Hospital—while also serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of OhioHealth. He was named President and CEO of OhioHealth in March 2002. He has a track record of achievement with a solid understanding of complex issues facing health care delivery. He has expertise in leading strategic initiatives, managing and developing human capital, improving profitability, and improving quality of care and customer experience.) David W. Gorman

(David Gorman is a retired, combat-disabled veteran of the Vietnam War, who was appointed Executive Director of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Service and Legislative Headquarters in Washington, DC in 1995. His responsibilities include oversight of the DAV National Service, Legislative, and Voluntary Service Programs. He is the organization’s principal spokesperson before Congress, the White House, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.”)Thomas E. Harvey ( Thomas Harvey is a Vietnam combat veteran whose decorations include the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and 12 others for valor and service. In Vietnam, he spent a year as a company commander with the 173rd Airborne brigade and a year and a half as an advisor with the Vietnamese Airborne Division. A lawyer by training, Mr. Harvey has spent much of his professional career working with veterans and issues of concern to them. He has served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, and Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”) Stewart M. Hickey (“Since 2011, Maj. Stewart M. Hickey, United States Marine Corps (Retired), has served as American Veterans (AMVETS) National Executive Director, operating the nation’s fourth largest congressionally chartered veterans service organization and its subordinate organizations, and the daily advocacy of issues affecting veterans, national security, foreign affairs, and the economy. He received a BA in History from Penn State University and an MA in Management from Webster University.”) Joyce M. Johnson, DO (“RADM Joyce M. Johnson, DO, MA USPHS (Retired) is a physician with senior public health leadership experience in civilian and military sectors. She serves on for-profit and non-profit boards and advisory committees, and provides consultation on a range of health care topics…RADM Johnson served in the U.S. Public Health Service (Rear Admiral, Upper Half). Her last active-duty assignment was with the U.S. Coast Guard as Director, Health and Safety (“surgeon general”). “)Ikram U. Khan, MD (“Dr. Ikram Khan received a Doctor of Medicine and Surgery (MB, BS) in August 1972 from the University of Karachi, Pakistan. He completed post- graduate surgical residency in General Surgery in New York from 1974 through 1978, and practiced as a General Surgeon in Las Vegas through 2005….Currently, he is president and 50-percent partner of Quality Care Consultants, LLC, founded in March 1992. The company provides consultant services in health care strategy and policy development for employers and other health care organizations.”) Phillip J. Longman(“Phil Longman is a Director at New America, a public policy institute. He is also a Senior Editor at the Washington Monthly and a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a course in health care policy….. Longman has written extensively on issues related to health care delivery system reform, including in his book Best Care Anywhere (currently in its third edition). The book chronicles the quality transformation of the Veterans Health Administration during the 1990s and applies its lessons to the broader U.S. health care system.”) Lucretia M. McClenney (“Lucretia McClenney is a consultant with the Department of Defense Vietnam War Commemoration Office and Executive Coach with the Brookings Institute Executive Education Program. Previously she served as Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Minority Veterans.”) Darin S. Selnick (“Darin Selnick is an independent consultant who provides a variety of services to organizations in the areas of government and community relations, business development, and veterans’ issues….He is currently the Senior Veterans Affairs Advisor for Concerned Veterans for America and served as Executive Director of the Fixing Veterans Health Care Bipartisan Taskforce.”) Martin R. Steele (“General Martin R. Steele enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 1965 and rose from private to three-star general, culminating his military career in August 1999 as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, Policies, and Operations at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, in Washington, DC. A decorated combat veteran with 34½ years of service, he is a recognized expert in the integration of all elements of national power (diplomatic, economic, informational, and military) with strategic military war plans and has served as an executive strategic planner/policy director in multiple theaters across Asia. His extraordinary career was chronicled as one of three principals in the award winning military biography, Boys of ’67, by Charles Jones…..Upon his retirement from active duty in 1999, he served as President and CEO of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City.”) Charlene M. Taylor (“Charlene Taylor joined Kaiser Permanente in 1997 as the Director of Specialty Services for the Permanente Medical Group at South Sacramento. In 2002 she became the Service Director for Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, responsible for Perioperative and Perinatal Services at South Sacramento. In 2008, she was promoted to Chief Nursing Officer at the Sacramento Medical Center where she was responsible for a 287-bed tertiary acute care hospital that conducted more than 11,000 operations per year. There, she oversaw 800 full-time employees and a budget of $150 million. Ms. Taylor was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2010 and retired from Kaiser Permanente in 2013.”)  Marshall W. Webster, MD (“Marshall W. Webster, MD, is a Senior Vice President of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and a Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. A graduate of Penn State University and the Johns Hopkins Medical School, he trained in surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, and subsequently served 2 years as a surgeon on active duty in the U.S. Navy…Dr. Webster returned to the University of Pittsburgh as a faculty vascular surgeon, including initially, a part-time attending staff position at the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center for 3 years. He has held the Mark M. Ravitch Chair in Surgery, and has had a long academic career of clinical practice, research, and service in varied administrative leadership roles. From 2002–2012, he was an Executive Vice President of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UMPC), President of UPMC’s Physician Services Division, and President of the University of Pittsburgh Physicians, the clinical practice plan of the university faculty.

Chairman Nancy Schlichting said:“The report provides bold recommendations that set a foundation for ensuring our nation's veterans receive the care they need and deserve, both now and in the future,”

The 308 report included numerous recommendations including

  • establishing high-performing, integrated community-based health care networks
  • credentialing community providers to ensure appropriate education, training, and experience;
  • allowing veterans to choose primary care providers and/or specialty care providers in the VHA care system;
  • retaining existing VA specialty care resources and expertise in fields like spinal cord injury, blind rehabilitation, mental health care, and prosthetics;
  • ensuring coordination of care and providing support for veterans;
  • improving data collection and management;
  • establishing a leadership succession strategy and management system,
  • applying best private sector practices;


  • establishing an expert body to develop recommendations for VA care eligibility and benefit design and simplified eligibility criteria.

This included a set term for a new office heading the VHA system (like the 5 year term + succession for the head of the FBI. They also recommended a new Board of Directors that would govern health care within the VA. (It was not clear on first reading how they would react to the VA Executives.  Moving away from the independent and varied VISNs the Commission urged a uniform, single system .

While it urged that the VA create new IT systems for the Health care system it did not note that the various IT systems cannot speak to one another within the VA And that that is an urgent need.

As mentioned this is a 308 page report and we will write a more comprehensive article on it as soon as we get to digest the full report. If you feel ambitious yourself just click below and start reading. We would love to talk to you about it.


Photo Info:  National Stripes- Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Farrell folds the U.S. flag aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville in the South China Sea, July 9, 2016. The Chancellorsville is patrolling in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Schneider



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