VA And Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services Join To Strengthen Safety Surveillance For Medications Issue

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced an agreement that greatly improves drug safety monitoring of prescriptions, including opioids.

The agreement, which was formalized March 21, will give VA the ability to monitor medical prescriptions issued outside the VA through Medicare Part D.

“VA is committed to patient safety, and our robust medication surveillance systems are part of that commitment,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This agreement greatly enhances medication safety for Veterans by providing better oversight of drugs that Veterans may be able to obtain from both agencies.”

VA currently has a robust system in place for medication surveillance to ensure safe use by Veteran patients and the ability to analyze patient outcomes. This new agreement will enable VA to incorporate up-to-date Medicare prescription information into its safety surveillance operations.

By incorporating prescriptions dispensed through Medicare, VA providers have access to more accurate information about the medications used by its patients.

More than 5 million Veterans receive prescription medications through VA. With the creation of the Medicare Part D benefit, Veterans dually enrolled in VA and Medicare have access to prescription benefits through both VA and Medicare, creating the potential for adverse drug interactions, duplication of use and greater risk of adverse drug events, including overdoses.

“This agreement represents a new level of information sharing between VA and CMS, which will improve care coordination and better protect our beneficiaries,” said CMS principal deputy administrator for Operations and Policy Kimberly Brandt. “Leveraging data is a key element of CMS’ efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, and we look forward to continued collaboration with VA on this important issue.”

National television ad places VA partnership and telehealth in prime time.

A new commercial featuring Veterans using telehealth began airing on national television this week as a part of a new partnership between T-Mobile* and VA. The ad, which highlights Veterans using VA Video Connect without incurring data charges, exemplifies the public-private partnerships VA has developed to increase access to care for Veterans.

“Veterans and caregivers with limited cellular data plans are faced with difficult decisions on how to best utilize their cellular data,” said Executive Advisor Deborah Scher, who leads the secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships. “Partnerships like these significantly expand the Veterans access to exceptional and innovative health care services.”

Bruce Grammer, a Marine sergeant and Purple Heart recipient who served in Vietnam, and his wife Lynne started using VA Video Connect three years ago to keep up with health care teams on a regular basis. The couple is featured alongside two other Veterans from California and Virginia.

“We live 20 miles from the closest loaf of bread, and 75 miles from the closest VA Medical Center,” said Lynne Van Dyke-Grammer. “I have no doubt that Bruce would not have sought out the proper health care if he was unable to do it from the comfort of our own home. Telehealth has made all the difference in the world.”

VA reached a major milestone in fiscal year 2018 by delivering health care through more than 1 million video telehealth visits, a 19% increase in video telehealth visits over the prior year. VA remains dedicated to opening doors for Veterans to more conveniently access their health care, regardless of their location across this country.

“Our goal at the Department of Veterans Affairs is to offer every Veteran the best health care possible no matter where they choose to call home. The Veterans featured in this advertisement demonstrate how telehealth can change lives,” said Dr. Neil Evans, chief officer of VA’s Office of Connected Care. “Through strategic partnerships such as this partnership with T-Mobile, VA is better able to support as many Veterans as possible.”

The T-Mobile commercials are scheduled to air in cinema and on television from May 1 to May 31.

Bob’s Note: Like many of the Cellular Companies, there is a large part of SE Oklahoma T-Mobile does not cover, so with a little help of the VFW Post Service Officers (remember the list I published two weeks ago) within the area you can get Telehealth in a secure location. I know both Oklahoma VA Healthcare System Centers (OKC and Muskogee) offer this program. North Central Texas (Bonham and Dallas VA Healthcare System Centers) do not at this time.

While we are talking about VA Healthcare System Centers (used to be VA Medical Care-VAMC) my column about being the only driver of the Veterans Transportation System to Bonham VA and Dallas VA has been somewhat solved. We still have two drivers’ thanks mainly to Connie Wilburn who states she will be staying within the system and driving during the day and I get to drive all those early morning trips (you know that start 0500 hrs) to get to the bus to Dallas VA.


So, if you see her, thank her for her service (those veterans in Hugo).

Also, for VFW Post 3658, Antlers, OK Rocky Woolman is out of the hospital and assumed his duties as the Post Veteran Service Officer, he can be reached at 1-719-367-7373 or at

Post Author: Examiner