June 30, 2014, White House Press Office – President Obama met with Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson and Rob Nabors to receive an update on efforts to improve care for veterans through the VA health care system.
They reported to the President on VA’s progress in implementing reforms and briefed him on the separate site visits they made to a dozen VA medical facilities across the country. Acting Secretary Gibson and Mr. Nabors reiterated that the vast majority of VA employees are dedicated, hardworking, and committed to the veterans they serve, but that significant further action is needed to address systemic problems in the VA health care system.
Last month, the President directed Rob Nabors to conduct a broader review of the Veterans Health Administration’s approach to access to care, and provide specific recommendations of how VA can make improvements to deliver the benefits and care veterans have earned. As part of today’s meeting, Mr. Nabors presented his findings to the President. For a summary of these findings, please see the attached document.
The President asked Rob Nabors to stay at the VA temporarily to continue to assist the Department during this time of transition.
Since Mr. Nabors began his review, VA has completed a separate nationwide Access Audit and taken aggressive steps to immediately improve access to care and address systemic issues in the VA health care system. These steps include:
· Initiating reforms to improve access to care: Over the last month, VA has completed outreach to 135,000 Veterans across the country, scheduled approximately 182,000 additional appointments, trained approximately 10,000 schedulers, and allocated $393 million to accelerate care. Additionally, VA has taken specific actions at some of the most challenged VA facilities, including: hiring more support staff to help get veterans off wait lists and into clinics, deploying more mobile medical units for veterans awaiting care, and expanding access to care to local communities. VA is also utilizing high-performing facilities to help those that need improvement.
· Increasing transparency: At the direction of the Acting Secretary, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has begun to post twice-monthly updates to the access data at VA.gov/health to enhance transparency and provide the most immediate information to veterans and the public on veterans’ access to quality healthcare.
· Protecting whistleblowers: Acting Secretary Gibson has expressed his strongest support for the rights and protections of whistleblowers, and has made clear that problems raised should be taken seriously and fully investigated. Following a letter to the President from the VA Office of Special Counsel regarding VA whistleblowers, VA directed a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Office of Medical Inspector’s operation, to be completed within 14 days. This review is underway.