KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

New VA Surgery Rating System Affects Where Vets Get Care; Abortion Changes Considered For Military

Veteran and military health policies are in the news.

"A new rating system now restricts the types of surgery performed at certain Veterans Affairs facilities in five states," NPR reports. "The new policy will prompt some veterans to travel farther to reach other VA facilities or civilian hospitals for more complex surgeries. The policy comes after investigations found that surgical mistakes had caused nine deaths in the department's Marion, Ill., hospital a few years ago. Under the new policy, the VA's 112 hospitals are now ranked according to whether they are able to perform standard, intermediate or complex surgical operations. The VA hospital in Fayetteville, N.C., is one of five facilities restricted to standard surgery only. ... This hospital doesn't have a bad reputation, but like other rural facilities, it has always struggled to recruit enough specialists" (Jones, 6/17). 

Meanwhile, "[w]ith a couple of quiet changes to long-standing rules, the military is on track to make 2010 a year in which its reproductive health policies are significantly liberalized," Politico reports. "In February, the military began requiring all of its hospitals to stock emergency contraceptives. And now, a Senate amendment to the defense authorization bill would authorize military hospitals to perform elective abortions¬Ö These shifts in military policy are particularly notable in light of the numerous anti-abortion provisions flying through state legislatures" (Kliff, 6/17).

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