On behalf of Louisiana veterans, we express extreme dissatisfaction with Modern Healthcare's selection of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald as one of the “healthcare winners” in 2014 as part of the Year in Review feature.
Your description says he “won $16 billion from Congress to improve care for veterans.” Beyond funding provided by Congress, veterans also deserve a competent, proactive leader who will reverse the VA's poor performance nationwide. Unfortunately, this VA secretary remains unresponsive to chronic medical-access problems facing Louisiana veterans.
McDonald has yet to acknowledge or reply to our congressional delegation's September 2014 letter asking him to improve the timeliness of payments for veterans' emergency medical services at hospitals and from ambulance services outside the VA, as directed by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. The VA has admitted to years of inappropriate claim denials that harmed the credit ratings of veterans. While the secretary delivers lofty speeches about rebuilding trust, these unjust denials force thousands of veterans into a lengthy and avoidable appeals process. As a “healthcare winner,” the new secretary should care enough to respond to congressional concerns about clear harm to veterans and demonstrate personal leadership on these chronic problems.