April 2008

April 11, 2008

The Defense Department's prescription drug costs have tripled between 2000 and 2006 and are expected to reach $15 million by 2015, largely because of demand for prescriptions available at retail pharmacies, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). TRICARE-covered prescriptions cost less at retail pharmacies than at military treatment facilities or by mail order, because the former at the time were not subject to federal pricing arrangements, which tend to lower costs. The GAO hailed a change which now subjects drugs from retail pharmacies to the same pricing arrangements, but said DoD needs to monitor closely this and other measures intent at reining in skyrocketing drug costs. Included are encouraging patients to use lower-cost medications from TRICARE's formulary, offering incentives to switch to mail-order prescriptions, and changing co-payment policies to encourage patients to buy medications from cost-effective sources. For more information, visit http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/repandtest.html on the GAO Web site.

August 19, 2008

Hill Country Veterans Council Meeting Tuesday August 19, 2008

1. Dr. Greg Smith, Medical Director for Kerrville V. A. Medical Center, briefed the council on the attached Performance Dash Boards. He has broken out the Kerrville Division. It is evident KVA is comparatively quite good. Due to the much smaller sampling, the percentage of dissatisfied has a greater impact on the rating.

a. Quality of patient care at KVA is rated 9th when compared with all the V. A. nationally.

b. STVAHCS is one of 32 class 1A systems in the National V. A. and is rated 6th.

2. Good news:

a. Dr. Swanzy is not retiring. The pink team will continue as before.

b. Work has been started on rehab and expanding the G.I. clinic.

c. Several local doctors have been V. A. certified and are now available to fill in when needed for team doctors or emergency room.

d. Work is almost completed on the new C.T. Scan Lab.

e. New digital equipment and training of personnel should be completed by 30 Oct. 08 which will enable all radiological test to be read and reports made to doctors almost in real time.

April 17, 2008

To view and download VA news release, please visit the following Internet address: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel

Overcoming Obstacles is Key to Veterans' Success Stories "The American Veteran" Highlights Helpful Programs

WASHINGTON (April 16, 2008) - Military members are trained to overcome obstacles, as part of a team, to achieve their mission. Returning to civilian life, especially after a combat tour, poses new challenges for many service members, requiring new tools and new forms of support.

Programs to help these veterans, available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and partnering organizations, are the focus of the April edition of "The American Veteran," VA's monthly half-hour news magazine. 

"We are committed to outreaching to veterans and military personnel about the VA programs available to help these warriors recover from their physical and mental injuries," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "These stories showcase the courage and determination of the veterans, as well as the commitment of those willing to help - many of whom are veterans themselves."

The lead story looks at veteran suicide, examining the programs VA has put in place to ensure that everyone from front line clerks to mental health providers are prepared to recognize the early warning signs of suicide and know how to respond.

A second feature looks at a unique rehabilitation program in Florida,"Shake A Leg," designed to help disabled veterans cope with physical and mental difficulties by teaching them how to sail.

In another story, VA partners with city leaders in Fargo, N.D., to support Project HART, a program created to help homeless veterans get off the street and stay off the street with a unique four-step program.

The series is designed to inform active duty members, veterans, their families and their communities about the services and benefits they have earned and to recognize and honor them. VA's Office of Public Affairs and the VA Learning University/ Employee Education System (VALU/EES) produce the program and broadcast it to VA facilities around the world on The Pentagon Channel and to community cable outlets.

Aimed at veterans of all eras, VA also tells stories of heroism and sacrifice, and relives moments in history with those who were there, reminding veterans of the bond of service they all share.

The VA Office of Public Affairs offers the program to local broadcasters and cable outlets and makes it available for viewing on the VA Web site, www.va.gov <http://www.va.gov/> . Just click on "Public Affairs" and then "Featured Items."

"The American Veteran" schedule on The Pentagon Channel is available at http://www.pentagonchannel.mil <http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/> . The Pentagon Channel has more than 1 million military viewers and is delivered domestically via DISH, EchoStar, T-Warner and Cox cable systems. (Check for service in your area.)

Additional stories on the April edition of "The American Veteran" include:

* VA's Newest Liver Transplant Center -- A look at VA's third and newest Liver Transplant Center at the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center in Houston where Michael Abshire became the first patient to go through their liver transplant program.

* VA dedicates a new national cemetery in South Florida. 

* A new Travel Nurse Corps is designed to address the nursing shortage. 

* New GI Bill rules provide an increase in educational benefits. 

A VA research project searching for a vaccine against Salmonella bacterium is carried aboard a NASA space shuttle to the International space station.

* James H. Parke Youth Volunteer Award Winner -- Meet Megan Smith a high school junior from Miami. Megan is this year's winner of VA's James H. Parke $20,000.00 Youth Volunteer Award Scholarship.

For information about "The American Veteran" program and how to obtain it for local programming, contact VA at 202-461-7502.

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