VA Cited for Neglecting Follow-Up Treatment for Depressed Vets

VA Cited for Neglecting Follow-Up Treatment for Depressed Vets

10) Veterans Administration Doctor
Wikimedia Commons
By Brianna Ehley, The Fiscal Times

The embattled Veterans Affairs Department is once again under scrutiny for potentially violating agency guidelines when treating patients—this time, failing to ensure that veterans with depression are receiving sufficient follow-up care after being prescribed anti-depressant medication.

That’s the conclusion of an investigation by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO reviewed patients being treated for depression at six separate VA medical centers and found that after the veterans received anti-depressants, their doctors did not conduct follow-up appointments within four to six weeks, as the VA requires

Related: VA Wastes Millions, But Still Wants More as Vets Wait for Care

In its review, the GAO said that among all patients whose records were reviewed—almost none of them received check ups with doctors in the required time after they were given anti-depressant medication.

"Given the debilitating effect that depression can have on veterans' quality of life, VA's monitoring of veterans with [depression] is critical to ensuring they receive care that is associated with positive health care outcomes," GAO director of health care Randall Williamson said in congressional testimony this week. He went on to criticize the VA for not following its own guidelines to assure veterans receive sufficient treatment.

“This work illustrates, once again, a continuing pattern of VHA's [Veterans Health Administration] noncompliance with its own policies and established procedures,” Randall Williamson, the GAO's director of health care said in congressional testimony last week.

Separately, the GAP flagged the VA’s Behavioral Health Autopsy Program which is used to collect data on veterans that have committed suicide in order to inform policy decisions, saying it is plagued with inaccuracies.

Auditors said that the system had incorrect dates of death—sometimes off by one day, sometimes off by a whole year. The GAO said this made it nearly impossible to assess what kind of treatment they were provided.

Number of the Day: 5.5 Percent

The debate over national health care aside, more Americans today say they get "excellent health care" than did in the early 2000s, according to <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/150806/rate-own-healthcare-quality-coverage-excellent.aspx" target="_blank"
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By Yuval Rosenberg

Health care spending in the U.S. will grow at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent from 2017 through 2026, according to new estimates published in Health Affairs by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The projections mean that health care spending would rise as a share of the economy from 17.9 percent in 2016 to 19.7 percent in 2026.

Part of the Shutdown-Ending Deal: $31 Billion More in Tax Cuts

The U.S. Capitol building is lit at dusk ahead of planned votes on tax reform in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files
Joshua Roberts
By The Fiscal Times Staff

Margot Sanger-Katz and Jim Tankersley in The New York Times: “The deal struck by Democrats and Republicans on Monday to end a brief government shutdown contains $31 billion in tax cuts, including a temporary delay in implementing three health care-related taxes.”

“Those delays, which enjoy varying degrees of bipartisan support, are not offset by any spending cuts or tax increases, and thus will add to a federal budget deficit that is already projected to increase rapidly as last year’s mammoth new tax law takes effect.”

IRS Paid $20 Million to Collect $6.7 Million in Tax Debts

The IRS provides second chances to get your tax return right with Form 1040X.
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By The Fiscal Times Staff

Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring the IRS to use private debt collection agencies to pursue “inactive tax receivables,” but the financial results are not encouraging so far, according to a new taxpayer advocate report out Wednesday.

In fiscal year 2017, the IRS received $6.7 million from taxpayers whose debts were assigned to private collection agencies, but the agencies were paid $20 million – “three times the amount collected,” the report helpfully points out.

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Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan See Small GDP Boost from Tax Bill

Belize sure is bumpy.
Wikipedia
By Yuval Rosenberg

Goldman Sachs economists see the tax bill adding 0.3 percentage points to GDP growth in 2018 and 2019 while JP Morgan forecasts a similar gain of 0.3 percentage points next year and 0.2 percentage points the year after.

Goldman’s analysts add that federal spending, which is likely to grow more quickly next year than it has recently, will bring the total fiscal boost to around 0.6 percentage points for 2018 and 0.4 percentage points in 2019.

Both banks see deficits likely rising above $1 trillion, or about 5 percent of GDP, in 2019.