Improving Health Care Services For Veterans
Veterans' Health Care
RetiredArmy Lt. Gen. James Peake, President Bush's nominee for Department of Veterans Affairs secretary, has promised to quickly repairproblems in the VA health system if confirmed, according to a 28-pagequestionnaire submitted to the Senate Veterans'Affairs Committeethat was obtained Thursday by the Associated Press, the AP/HoustonChroniclereports. Peake stated that he would work to improve accountability, streamlinethe VA and Department of Defense health systems and make treatingveterans with post-traumatic stress disorder "a very high priority."
Inaddition, Peake said he wants to reduce delays in disability claims decisionsfrom the current average of 180 days to 125 days. Peake said that he would makeefforts to improve and streamline medical record-keeping. He wrote,"Timely is yesterday!" adding, "So my answer is that we need tomove as quickly as possible with initiatives that do share digital data andrecords."
Also in the disclosure, Peake denied having "firsthand" knowledgeduring his tenure as U.S. Army surgeon general from 2000 to 2004 aboutsubstandard care that some veterans were receiving at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Peake also said that if confirmed,he would leave his post as chief medical officer of QTC Management,which has held millions of dollars in contracts with the VA. Peake, who took anunpaid leave of absence from the company after his nomination, wrote, "Ifconfirmed, I will terminate any connection with QTC, will have no ongoing orresidual financial interest in QTC and will recuse myself in any mattersrelated to QTC."
He also promised upon confirmation to divest stock holdings in more than 57companies, including many pharmaceutical companies that either currently ormight do business with the Veterans' Affairs, according to a Senate staffer who requestedanonymity. The committee on Wednesday is scheduled to consider Peake'snomination (Yen, AP/Houston Chronicle, 11/29).
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