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Live, From D.C….How To Fix The VA, And How To Avoid Making It Worse

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Tuesday I will convene a panel of six guests with unique perspectives and expertise on the attempt underway to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs , a piece of legislation that is moving at the speed of light in Beltway terms, and about the details of which not much is known and nothing at all debated in the public square.  That’s a recipe for a massive amount of waste and not much reform.


So for the first two hours of Tuesday’s show I will be joined in studio by Phillip Longman, author of The Best Care Anywhere, 3rd Edition: Why VA Health Care Would Work Better For Everyone, an unabashed supporter of the VA model, and hopefully The Washington Examiner’s Mark Flatten who just won the American Legion’s  2014 Fourth Estate Award for his reporting on the VA, and former Deputy Secretary of HHS Tevi Troy, who brings real-world experience in running a vast government bureaucracy to the microphones.


On the phones will be three other key experts.


From Seattle, Megan McCardle will join us, and as the title of her best-seller The Upside of Down: Why Failing Well Is The Key To Success suggests, she is a student of catastrophe and how to learn from it.


From Los Angeles, one of my law partners, Lowell Brown, who has been a frequent guest on the show in the Obamacare-era as Lowell represents major health care “providers” –hospitals, medical centers etc– across the country from both the for-profit and not-for-profit world, providers having to deal with a storm of regulatory changes force fed by the massive ACA.  The meltdowns at the VA foreshadow similar problems across the provider landscape as Obamcare rolls out, and Lowell is one of the few lawyers in the country at the tip of the compliance spear.


From San Antonio,  Maj. Gen. Lee Rodgers USAF,MC(ret.), who graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1972, spent 31 years on active duty all around the world, including the command of multiple hospitals in the military system, and presently the Chief Medical Officer at two San Antonio-area hospitals.  Like Lowell, the general is dealing every day with the second-order impacts of massive, poorly thought through changes in health care delivery systems.  Both men will be able to speak to the wisdom of some of the ideas being jammed through as part of VA reform. By Tuesday I hope to have dug out the outlines of the bills going to conference and will ask the panel for their views on what might be best crossed out and what could be added in to great and good effect.


“Reform conservatives” are making a play right now for policy seriousness in the run-up to 2014 and 2016, but the lightning-like rush to reform the VA without public input or much debate is exactly the opposite of how such reforms should be mounted.  Hopefully, Tuesday’s first two hours will bring some light to the pending legislation. I’ll wrap up the two days with an hour three speculation-thon on 2014 and 2016 with a hand picked panel of prognosticator/journos (who also smoke cigars afterwards.)  


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