Veteran news during Coronavirus
V.A. Criticized for Effort to Keep Some Veterans Away From Private Care During Outbreak
New York Times
By Jennifer Steinhauer
March 25, 2020
By Wednesday morning, the White House sought to correct the impression that the department was putting a pause on the Mission Act.
Robert L. Wilkie, the secretary of veterans affairs.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York TimesWASHINGTON — An effort by the Department of Veterans Affairs to prevent some veterans from seeking health care outside its centers drew heavy criticism from lawmakers and a vocal Fox News ally of the president, who suggested the department’s bureaucracy could undermine a signature program of President Trump’s term.
That program, known as the Mission Act, permits veterans to seek primary care and mental health services outside the department’s system if they can prove they must drive at least 30 minutes to a Department of Veterans Affairs facility. The network of private providers and urgent care centers had been slowly expanding this year as those standards went into effect.
But concerns arose that at-risk veterans seeking outside care could expose themselves to the coronavirus or tax strained private health care resources.
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The VA Told Employees to Keep Coming to Work – Now Several Have the Coronavirus
Voice of San Diego
“It just feels like no one is looking out for us,” one of the employees said. Voice of San Diego is withholding the names of individual employees because they fear retaliation from their employer.
Employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs in San Diego say they’re not being allowed to work remotely and have been required to use personal leave in order to quarantine themselves at home – even as several employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and many others await test results.
Voice of San Diego spoke with more than a dozen employees from multiple departments in the regional VA.
Employees in departments like mental health and social work, which are doing most of their work by phone and by video, have been asked to come in, despite employee requests to work remotely. Employees who wanted to quarantine or were told by their doctor to do so said they were forced into an unappealing dilemma: Either use annual leave or take time off unpaid, or come into the office to work.
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Army says more than 9,000 retired medics, nurses, and docs want to help with the COVID-19 response
Task and Purpose
The U.S. Army said Thursday that more than 9,000 retired soldiers in healthcare fields had expressed interest in coming back on active duty to help with the response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"The initial response has been very positive," the service said in an emailed statement.
The Army sent notifications on Wednesday to more than 800,000 former soldiers to gauge their willingness to help with the response to COVID-19 as cases have surged over the past week in the United States.
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Hospitals, health centers, veterans to get relief in coronavirus stimulus bill
A health care professional applies a swab at a drive-thru coronavirus testing facility for residents who have an order from a provider on Quincy Street in Arlington, Va., on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Impact on veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile, would receive $19.6 billion — including $3.1 billion to bolster IT operations and telehealth — along with additional authorities tied to expanded veteran assistance and worker pay.
The VA serves as the back-up medical system for the nation’s hospitals and is already aiding facilities in the New York City area.
The VA has confirmed 365 veteran cases as of Wednesday, with four deaths.
The department is separately proposing to suspend routine referrals to private doctors as laid out under a 2018 law, according to a memo sent to Hill staff Tuesday. VA spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci said the policy aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines to defer elective procedures.
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