Democratic Senators Criticize Delay in VA Hospital and Health Care Facility Reform Plan
Seven Democratic senators yesterday sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi that criticized a decision by the department to delay a plan to restructure veterans hospitals and health care facilities, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The senators wrote that the delay "will likely result in the closure of thousands of long-term care, inpatient, (residential) and psychiatric beds." Last week, Principi delayed public hearings scheduled for this month on the plan, which the VA launched on June 6, 2002, because he said that his staff required more time to review reform recommendations from the 20 VA regional networks. In addition, Robert Roswell, VA undersecretary for health, asked the regional networks to revise their recommendations to focus on additional consolidation of campuses and a reduction in hours of operation -- from 24 hours a day, seven days a week to 40 hours over a five-day week. "By forcing facilities to develop a strategy for closing beds -- both inpatient and long-term care beds -- it appears that the desire for reductions is being put ahead of the work already done by the staff in the field and by implication, ahead of the needs of veterans," the senators wrote. The group of lawmakers that signed the letter included Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and John Corzine (D-N.J.) (Gamboa, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.