Veterans Affairs Health System to Be Profiled at Preventive Medicine 2015

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National expert on veterans’ health care to address what went wrong at the VA and the lessons that the recent VA scandal holds for health care more broadly at ACPM annual meeting

“The continued consolidation within our healthcare system will undoubtedly lead to both challenges and opportunities as integrated care delivery systems continue to expand their influence,” says ACPM President Halley S. Faust, MD, MPH, FACPM.

Washington, D.C. (February 24, 2015) – Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH, will present “The Rise and Fall of VA Healthcare: 1994‐2014” at Preventive Medicine 2015, on Thursday, February 26, in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Kizer, Director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement and a Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine and Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, served as Under Secretary for Health in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from 1994 through 1999, during which time he engineered what has been described as the largest and most successful health care turnaround in U.S. history. The quality of VA health care, access, service satisfaction and efficiency dramatically improved as a result of the sweeping reforms implemented during those years. In his presentation, Dr. Kizer will share his insights on the systemic problems that gradually undermined those reforms, building upon what he and Harvard University’s Ashish Jha detailed in “Restoring Trust in VA Health Care” in the July 24, 2014 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Kizer is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most knowledgeable persons on veterans’ health issues and will deliver his talk at the annual conference of the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), the nation’s leading society of physicians committed to health promotion and disease prevention. Preventive Medicine 2015 will take place at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, February 25-28, 2015.

In the early 1990s, the VA health care system, the nation’s largest integrated health care system, was plagued with multiple systemic problems, causing a number of policymakers to call for its abolition. Beginning with new leadership in 1994, the VA was restructured and re-engineered over the following five years, leading to dramatically improved quality of care, service satisfaction and operational efficiency. Many hailed the “new VA” as a model for 21st century health care. However, a series of reports in 2014 brought to light major systemic problems that had materially eroded some of VA’s improvements, resulting in delayed access to care for thousands of veterans, secret waiting lists, manipulation and falsification of wait time data, and the death of possibly dozens of patients because of delayed care. Dr. Kizer’s presentation will examine the strategy utilized to transform the VA in the late 1990s, evidence demonstrating the resulting improvements, and changes that occurred in recent years which were key factors contributing to the problems publicly chronicled in 2014. He will also highlight lessons that the VA scandal may hold for health care more broadly.

“The continued consolidation within our healthcare system will undoubtedly lead to both challenges and opportunities as integrated care delivery systems continue to expand their influence,” says ACPM President Halley S. Faust, MD, MPH, FACPM. “It’s critical for us, as leaders in population medicine, to understand the good, the bad and the ugly within the VA health system experience so that we may apply lessons learned. Dr. Kizer’s insights shine a much needed light on this topic.”

Dr. Kizer currently also serves as Director of the California Cancer Reporting and Epidemiologic Surveillance Program and as the Chief Quality Improvement Consultant for the California Department of Health Care Services. Among his other prior positions in the public and private sectors, he was the founding president and CEO of the National Quality Forum and served as California’s top health official for nearly 7 years. He has been a prolific author, is a fellow or distinguished fellow of 10 professional societies, and has the very rare distinction of being a member of both the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration.

About ACPM
The American College of Preventive Medicine is the national professional society for physicians committed to disease prevention and health promotion. Founded in 1954, ACPM provides leadership in research, professional education, development of public policy, and enhancement of standards of preventive medicine. Specialists in preventive medicine are uniquely trained in both clinical medicine and public health. They have the skills needed to understand and reduce the risks of disease, disability and death in individuals and in population groups.

More information on ACPM is available at and the full program can be found at

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Michael A. Barry, CAE
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