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    Subject Term: "Health care services"

    70 publications with a total of 188 open recommendations including 22 priority recommendations
    Director: Katherine M. Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should expeditiously develop a plan--that includes priorities, timeframes, clear roles and responsibilities, and methods for assessing progress--to effectively implement the NAS-related recommendations identified in the Protecting Our Infants Act: Final Strategy. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Randall Williamson
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Undersecretary for Health should take additional steps to ensure that VA's website reports health care quality measures that cover a broad range of health care services, highlights key differences in the clinical quality of care, and presents this information in an easily accessible and understandable way (Recommendation 1).

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Undersecretary for Health should direct VA Central Office to conduct a systematic assessment of the completeness and accuracy of patient clinical information across VAMCs that is used to calculate the health care quality measures VA reports and address any deficiencies that affect the accuracy of these measures (Recommendation 2).

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary for Health should further clarify when and for what purposes each national policy and guidance document type should be used, including whether guidance documents, such as program office memos, should be vetted and recertified. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary for Health should develop standard processes for consistently maintaining and disseminating guidance documents to each level of the organization. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary for Health should systematically obtain information on potential implementation challenges from VISNs and VAMCs and take the appropriate actions to address challenges prior to policy issuance. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary for Health should establish a mechanism by which program offices systematically obtain feedback from VISNs and VAMCs on national policy after implementation and take the appropriate actions. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary for Health should establish a standard policy exemption waiver process and centrally track and monitor approved waivers. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary for Health should establish a standard process, including designated oversight roles, to periodically monitor that local policies established by VISNs and VAMCs align with national policies. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Acting Under Secretary for Health to develop and disseminate a system-wide standard operating procedure that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of VAMCs in resolving pending enrollment applications.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Acting Under Secretary for Health to clearly define oversight roles and responsibilities for HEC, and for Veterans Integrated Service Networks as appropriate, to help ensure timely processing of applications and accurate enrollment determinations.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Acting Under Secretary for Health to develop procedures for collecting consistent and reliable data system-wide to track and evaluate timeliness of enrollment processes, and institute an oversight mechanism to ensure VAMC and HEC enrollment staff are appropriately following the procedures.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Acting Under Secretary for Health to clarify its 5-day timeliness standard for processing enrollment applications, including whether it covers the total time needed to make an enrollment determination and the time applications are pending, and ensure the clarification is communicated system-wide.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Katherine Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CMS's oversight of states' MLTSS programs, the Administrator of CMS should take steps to identify and obtain key information needed to oversee states' efforts to monitor beneficiary access to quality services, including, at a minimum, obtaining information specific to network adequacy, critical incidents, and appeals and grievances.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the WTC Health Program quality assurance (QA) program addresses required QA elements, including the three elements mandated in the Zadroga Act, the Director of NIOSH should develop and implement procedures for conducting systematic reviews of each clinic's QA plan (recommendation 1).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the WTC Health Program QA program addresses required QA elements, including the three elements mandated in the Zadroga Act, the Director of NIOSH should develop and disseminate guidance that clearly specifies how the clinics should address mandated elements in their QA plans (recommendation 2).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the WTC Health Program QA program addresses required QA elements, including the three elements mandated in the Zadroga Act, the Director of NIOSH should develop uniform performance measures that clinics are required to use to consistently evaluate mandated elements through their audits every quarter (recommendation 3).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Gretta L. Goodwin
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better understand the available opportunities for collecting inmate health care utilization data, BOP should conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of potential solutions, and take steps toward implementation of the most effective solution.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better understand the available opportunities for controlling health care costs, BOP should implement its guidance to conduct "spend analyses" of BOP's health care spending, using data sources already available

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To determine the actual or likely effectiveness of its ongoing or planned health care cost control initiatives, BOP should evaluate the extent to which its initiatives achieve their cost control aim.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To enhance its strategic planning for and implementation of health care cost control efforts, BOP should incorporate elements of a sound planning approach and (1) establish a means of measuring progress toward and effectiveness of its activities for its current strategic objectives and goals related to controlling health care costs; and (2) identify the resources and investments necessary for implementation of its planned health care cost control initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and utility of its Federal Medical Center mission analyses, BOP should document the analyses and findings that underlie its recommendations.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure VHA medical examiners are prepared to conduct the Gulf War general medical exam, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to require medical examiners to complete training, such as the 90-minute Gulf War Illness web-based course, before conducting these exams.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA agreed this recommendation and stated it has plans to address it. Specifically, VA said it plans to make its 90-minute web-based training course mandatory for its medical examiners who conduct Gulf War Illness exams.
    Recommendation: To provide more complete information to veterans whose Gulf War Illness claims are denied, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to update guidance to require that decision letters indicate whether Gulf War Illness medical issues were evaluated under both a presumptive and direct service connection method.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA agreed this recommendation and stated it has plans in place to address it. Specifically, VA noted it would improve how it communicates decisions to veterans and is in the process of updating its guidance to the regional offices to clarify the language required for its Gulf War Illness decision letters.
    Recommendation: To increase the likelihood of making progress toward developing a single case definition of Gulf War Illness, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to prepare and document a plan to develop a single case definition of Gulf War Illness. This plan should include near- and long-term specific actions, such as analyzing and leveraging information in existing datasets and identifying any areas for future research to help VA achieve this goal.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA agreed this recommendation and stated it has plans to address it. Specifically, VA noted it would convene a group of subject matter experts to work on a plan - as described in our report - to establish a single case definition of Gulf War Illness.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist VA in improving key IT management processes to ensure that investments support the delivery of health care services, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health and the Chief Information Officer to identify performance metrics and associated targets for the goals and objectives in the department's IT strategic plans, including the Information Resources Management strategic plan and the Health Information Strategic Plan, as they relate to the delivery of health IT and the VHA mission.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on our report, VA concurred with our recommendation and described planned coordination with the Office of Information and Technology and the Veterans Health Administration to develop or revise and maintain performance metrics that support the strategic and health information technology goals and objectives. The department plans to revise performance metrics to align to new goals and objectives by June 2018.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in improving key IT management processes to ensure that investments support the delivery of health care services, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health and the Chief Information Officer to ensure that the department-level investment review structure is implemented as planned and that guidance on the IT governance process is documented and identifies criteria for selecting new investments, and reselecting investments currently operational at VHA.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on our report, VA concurred with our recommendation and provided meeting minutes for its Portfolio Investment Management Board and a document describing the proposed alignment and interdependencies between the 11 governance boards. We will continue to monitor the implementation of the proposed relationships and review any additional guidance issued that further describes the process used by the governance boards for selecting and reselecting information technology investments.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in improving key IT management processes to ensure that investments support the delivery of health care services, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health and the Chief Information Officer to identify additional performance metrics to align with VHA's core business functions, and then use these metrics to determine the extent to which the department's IT systems support performance of VHA's mission.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on our report, VA concurred with our recommendation. In addition, the department outlined steps it intends to take to address our recommendation. These steps include developing a set of core metrics to provide continuous input into investment portfolio decisions and establishing a methodology for ensuring that information technology investments are aligned to business needs and that expected outcomes are defined prior to making the investments. The department plans to complete this work by September 2018. We will continue to monitor VA's progress on these efforts.
    Recommendation: To assist VA in improving key IT management processes to ensure that investments support the delivery of health care services, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health and the Chief Information Officer to ensure that unmet IT needs identified by key program areas--pharmacy benefits management, scheduling, and community care--are addressed appropriately and that related business functions are supported by IT systems to the extent required.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on our report, VA concurred with our recommendation. The department has described its intention to ensure that unmet information technology needs for the pharmacy benefits management, scheduling, and community care program areas are addressed appropriately during fiscal year 2018 budget formulation. We will follow-up with VA to ascertain what needs have been addressed, closed, or reprioritized for each program office during fiscal year 2018.
    Director: Valerie Melvin
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide clinicians and pharmacists with improved tools to support pharmacy services to veterans and reduce risks to patient safety, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and the Under Secretary for Health to establish and implement a plan for updating the pharmacy system to address the inefficiencies with viewing patient medication data in the Outpatient Pharmacy application and between the pharmacy application and viewers.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and in August 2017 stated that it had identified $4 million in fiscal year 2018 to establish a pharmacy graphical user interface. According to the department, it plans to complete its action in response to this recommendation by June 2018.
    Recommendation: To provide clinicians and pharmacists with improved tools to support pharmacy services to veterans and reduce risks to patient safety, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and the Under Secretary for Health to complete a plan for the implementation of an approach to data standardization that will support the capability for clinicians and pharmacists to view complete DOD data and receive order checks that consistently include DOD data.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred in principle with our recommendation and in August 2017 stated that it plans to implement the electronic health record system that is being deployed by DOD, which will present VA clinicians with complete DOD data and the ability to perform order checks on DOD data. In parallel, the department is continuing and expanding the implementation of data standardization. According to the department, it plans to complete its action in response to this recommendation by October 2019.
    Recommendation: To provide clinicians and pharmacists with improved tools to support pharmacy services to veterans and reduce risks to patient safety, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and the Under Secretary for Health to conduct an assessment to determine to what extent interoperability of VA's pharmacy system with DOD's pharmacy system is impacting transitioning service members.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and in May 2017 stated that the health executive committee would complete an assessment to determine the extent interoperability with DOD's pharmacy system is impacting transitioning service members. According to the department, it planned to complete its actions in response to this recommendation by September 2017. We will update the status of this recommendation when VA provides documentation of its interoperability assessment to us.
    Recommendation: To provide clinicians and pharmacists with improved tools to support pharmacy services to veterans and reduce risks to patient safety, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and the Under Secretary for Health to develop and execute a plan for implementing the capability to send outbound e-prescriptions to non-VA pharmacies, in accordance with National Council for Prescription Drug Programs standards.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and in August 2017 stated that it will review its plan for e-prescribing functionality after it has signed a contract to adopt the electronic health record system that is being deployed by DOD. According to the department, it plans to complete its action in response to this recommendation by March 2018.
    Recommendation: To provide clinicians and pharmacists with improved tools to support pharmacy services to veterans and reduce risks to patient safety, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and the Under Secretary for Health to ensure that the department's evaluation of alternatives for electronic health records includes consideration for additional generation level 3 capability such as navigating from an alert to medication order in the electronic health record system.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and in August 2017 stated that it had entered into contract negotiations to acquire and deploy a level 3 electronic health record system that is expected to address pharmacy functions. The department plans to award this contract in December 2017. We will update the status of this recommendation when VA provides documentation of its evaluation of alternatives to us.
    Recommendation: To provide clinicians and pharmacists with improved tools to support pharmacy services to veterans and reduce risks to patient safety, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and the Under Secretary for Health to reassess the priority for establishing an inventory management capability to monitor and update medication levels and track when to reorder medications.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation and in August 2017 stated that it will reassess the prioritization of medication inventory management after a contract for adoption of the electronic health record system is signed in December 2017. According to the department, it plans to complete its action in response to this recommendation by June 2018.
    Director: Randall B. Williamson
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the completeness and accuracy of VA's productivity metrics and efficiency models and strengthen the monitoring of clinical productivity and efficiency VA-wide, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs should direct the Undersecretary for Health to expand existing productivity metrics to track the productivity of all providers of care to veterans by, for example, including contract physicians who are not VA employees as well as advance practice providers acting as sole providers.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the completeness and accuracy of VA's productivity metrics and efficiency models and strengthen the monitoring of clinical productivity and efficiency VA-wide, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs should direct the Undersecretary for Health to help ensure the accuracy of underlying staffing and workload data by, for example, developing training to all providers on coding clinical procedures.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the completeness and accuracy of VA's productivity metrics and efficiency models and strengthen the monitoring of clinical productivity and efficiency VA-wide, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs should direct the Undersecretary for Health to develop a policy requiring VAMCs to monitor and improve clinical efficiency through a standard process, such as establishing performance standards based on VA's efficiency models and developing a remediation plan for addressing clinical inefficiency.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the completeness and accuracy of VA's productivity metrics and efficiency models and strengthen the monitoring of clinical productivity and efficiency VA-wide, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs should direct the Undersecretary for Health to establish an ongoing process to systematically review VAMCs' remediation plans and ensure that VAMCs and Veterans Integrated Service Networks are successfully implementing remediation plans for addressing low clinical productivity and inefficiency.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help states effectively address ongoing challenges related to ensuring the appropriate use of psychotropic medications for children in foster care, the Secretary of HHS should consider cost-effective ways to convene state child welfare, Medicaid, and other stakeholders to promote collaboration and information sharing within and across states on psychotropic medication oversight.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with this recommendation and provided examples of the virtual convening of contingency groups they employed to provide technical assistance and peer to peer networking in child welfare. The agency plans to offer additional technical assistance that is specifically related to the topic of mental health and psychotropic medication. GAO will consider closing the recommendation when the agency completes these efforts.
    Director: Robert Goldenkoff
    Phone: (202) 512-2757

    12 open recommendations
    including 5 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of HR functions at VA medical centers, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should instruct the Under Secretary for Health to assign the following responsibility to the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Workforce Service: develop a comprehensive competency assessment tool for HR staff that evaluates knowledge of all three personnel systems, (Title 5, Title 38 and Title 38-Hybrid).

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will provide updated information once we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of HR functions at VA medical centers, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should instruct the Under Secretary for Health to assign the following responsibility to the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Workforce Service: ensure that all VHA HR staff complete the competency assessment tool and use this data to identify and address competency gaps within HR offices.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of HR functions at VA medical centers, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should instruct the Under Secretary for Health to assign the following responsibility to the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Workforce Service: evaluate the extent to which training strategies are effective for improving the skills and competencies of HR staff.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will provide updated information once we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of HR functions at VA medical centers, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should instruct the Under Secretary for Health to establish clear lines of authority that provide the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Workforce Service the ability to oversee and hold medical center HR offices accountable for implementing initiatives to improve HR processes within HR offices as well as monitoring and reporting on the results of these initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA agreed with our recommendation and stated that it plans to address this recommendation through an organizational realignment. As a first step, in March 2017, the Acting Under Secretary for Health issued a memo to VHA Deputy Under Secretaries, Network Directors, and Medical Center Directors stating that these officials are accountable for ensuring efficient and effective human capital service delivery. To fully implement the recommendation to hold medical center HR offices accountable, VA needs to establish procedures for monitoring and reporting on the results of its HR improvement initiatives.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of HR functions at VA medical centers, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should instruct the Under Secretary for Health to establish clear lines of authority that provide the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Workforce Service the ability to oversee and hold medical center HR offices accountable for requiring all HR staff to complete the competency assessment tool within HR offices.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA agreed with our recommendation and stated that it was taking steps to address it. As a first step, in March 2017, the Acting Under Secretary for Health issued a memo stating that the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Workforce Services (ADUSHWFS) is authorized to establish HR competencies for VHA HR staff, and also require VHA HR staff to complete HR competency assessments and training. Further, the memo requires the ADUSHWFS to report quarterly to the DUSHOM on the status of HR competency assessments and training completion. In late April 2017, VA officials stated that they are establishing processes to collect and monitor data on completion rates for the HR staff competency assessment tool. To fully implement the recommendation, VA should implement these processes and provide quarterly data on competency tool completion rates to the DUSHOM.
    Recommendation: To ensure VA medical centers make needed improvements to HR functions, such as those identified by VA's Office of Oversight and Effectiveness and VHA's Consult, Assist, Review, Develop, and Sustain (CARDS) reviews, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should provide the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration (HR&A) and the Under Secretary for Health with the oversight responsibility of effectively monitoring the status of corrective actions at medical center HR offices and ensuring that corrective actions are implemented.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will provide updated information once we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that positions across all VHA medical facilities are placed in the appropriate class and grade, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for HR&A and the Under Secretary for Health to clarify their lines of authority and processes for overseeing and holding Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISNs) and VHA medical facilities accountable for the consistent application of federal classification policies.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will provide updated information once we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To accelerate efforts to develop a modern, credible, and effective performance management system the Assistant Secretary for HR&A should, with input from VHA stakeholders, ensure that meaningful distinctions are being made in employee performance ratings by (1) developing and implementing a standardized, comprehensive performance management training program for supervisors of Title 5, Title 38, and Title 38-Hybrid employees based on leading practices and ensuring procedures are in place to support effective performance conversations between supervisors and employees; (2) reviewing and revising Title 5 and Title 38 performance management policies consistent with leading practices (e.g., require definition of all performance levels); and (3) developing and implementing a process to standardize performance plan elements, standards, and metrics for common positions across VHA that are covered under VA's Title 5 performance management system.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA partially agreed with our recommendation and described the preliminary steps it is planning to take to identify and implement a modern, credible, and effective performance management system. In late April 2017, VA officials stated that they are in the early stages of identifying a way forward for a revised performance management system, and are considering different options. To implement our recommendation, VA must ensure that meaningful distinctions are being made in employee performance ratings. This includes reviewing and revising Title 5 and Title 38 performance management policies consistent with leading practices (e.g., requiring definition of all performance levels), and developing and implementing a process to standardize performance plan elements, standards, and metrics for all common Title 5 positions across VHA. We recognize that identifying and implementing a new performance management system will require significant effort on VA's part, and will continue to monitor its actions and progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To accelerate efforts to develop a modern, credible, and effective performance management system, the Assistant Secretary for HR&A should, with input from VHA stakeholders, ensure that ratings-based performance awards are administered in a manner that is consistent with leading practices and promotes improved employee performance.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA partially agreed with our recommendation and stated that it will explore how to create effective incentive and reward systems. VA also noted that due to constrained funding for such systems, it will pursue ways to maximize effective use of both monetary and non-monetary awards to promote employee performance. In late April 2017, VA officials stated that they are in the early stages of identifying a way forward for a revised performance management system (including ratings-based awards), and are considering different options. To implement our recommendation, VA must ensure that its award programs are administered in a valid, reliable, and transparent manner. We recognize that identifying and implementing a new performance management system will require significant effort on VA?s part, and will continue to monitor its actions and progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To accelerate efforts to develop a modern, credible, and effective performance management system, the Assistant Secretary for HR&A should, with input from VHA stakeholders, develop a plan for how and when it intends to implement a modern information technology (IT) system to support employee performance management processes.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA partially agreed with this recommendation and stated that it continues to pilot its performance appraisal IT system -- known as the ePerformance system -- but that broad implementation of new technology for performance management will require adequate IT funding. In late April 2017, VA officials stated that they are exploring other potential IT systems to support the performance management process. To implement our recommendation, VA must develop a plan for how and when it intends to implement a modern performance management IT system.
    Recommendation: To better monitor and improve employee engagement, the Under Secretary for Health should establish clear and effective lines of authority and accountability for developing, implementing, and monitoring strategies for improving employee engagement across VHA, such as by establishing an employee engagement office at the VHA headquarters level with appropriate oversight of VISNs and medical center initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Office of the Under Secretary for Health
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will provide updated information once we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better monitor and improve employee engagement, the Under Secretary for Health should ensure that VHA and VISN entities jointly develop (1) a system to facilitate sharing of employee engagement leading practices/lessons learned; and (2) a strategy to help address barriers to improving engagement, particularly for those medical centers with the lowest engagement scores.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs: Office of the Under Secretary for Health
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will provide updated information once we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should reverse reimbursements that were not made to the same appropriation account as the account from which USAID obligated the funds.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that it is examining whether sufficient appropriate resources exist to support all of the obligations against the accounts that were improperly reimbursed. As of September 2017, USAID is in the process of reversing the improper reimbursements. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should reverse reimbursements for which there is no documentary evidence that the obligation was incurred to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Ebola outbreak.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID stated that it would reverse reimbursements for which the documentation was lacking that the obligation was incurred to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Ebola outbreak. As of September 2017, USAID is in the process of reversing the reimbursements. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should determine whether reversing any of these reimbursements results in the obligation of funds in excess of appropriations in violation of the Antideficiency Act and, if so, report any violations in accordance with law.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that USAID's Office of the Chief Financial Officer has been notified of a potential funds control violation and that USAID's ongoing review will determine whether an Antideficiency Act violation occurred. USAID further noted that, in the event it finds an Antideficiency Act violation, the agency would notify the violation in accordance with the law. In September 2017, USAID told GAO that it is finalizing the determination regarding the potential Antideficiency Act violation. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that USAID complies with reimbursement provisions that may arise in future appropriations laws, the Administrator of USAID should develop written policies and procedures for the agency's reimbursement process.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that the agency will develop written policies and procedures that adequately address reimbursement provisions of applicable appropriations laws. In September 2017, USAID told GAO that it is in the process of finalizing the written policies and procedures for the agency's reimbursement process. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To fully assess the size and composition of the medical force, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to conduct a new analysis of the required number of active-duty and civilian medical personnel that mitigates known limitations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen ongoing efforts to analyze the costs of medical force readiness and establish clinical currency standards, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to take steps to identify and mitigate limitations regarding the standard for maintaining providers' clinical skills, including improving the accuracy of information concerning providers' workload and conducting an analytically rigorous calculation of active-duty providers' time devoted to military-specific responsibilities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help achieve DOD's goals for transferring health care into its own facilities and increasing the productivity of active-duty medical providers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to develop a strategy for achieving these goals that reflects the leading practices of effective federal strategic planning.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen ongoing efforts within DOD to address the Study's recommendations to use the provider model outputs to inform execution of health care delivery and to refine the model for future use, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to modify DOD's model to reflect the military service of the physicians and military treatment facilities included in the model.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen any future assessments of additional changes to DOD's network of military treatment facilities, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to describe steps taken to assess the reliability of data supporting the assessment, including, at a minimum, the sources of data, data limitations, and efforts to test data reliability.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen any future assessments of additional changes to DOD's network of military treatment facilities, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to include in any accompanying cost estimates an appropriate level of detail, all significant costs, and an assessment of the reliability of the data supporting the cost estimate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Elizabeth Curda
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: In order to ensure that veterans receive quality care from qualified physicians, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to develop and implement a comprehensive oversight strategy that includes ongoing monitoring and evaluations of the contractors' verification of PC3 and Choice physicians' credentials, as well as VHA staff's review of Choice physicians. VHA's oversight should include reviewing documentation and assessing whether the contractors' plans for improving their processes for Choice credentials verification are effective.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In June and July 2017, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) completed separate audit evaluations of both contractors' verification of Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) and Choice physicians' credentials. This supplements the ongoing monitoring that VHA already had in place for routinely and independently checking the credentials for a sample of PC3 and Choice providers. However, as of October 2017, VHA has not yet implemented a strategy to oversee VHA staff's review of Choice physicians through the VHA Choice Provider Agreement program.
    Director: Katherine Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure efficient use of federal resources, the Administrator of CMS should improve alignment of Medicare UC payments with hospital uncompensated care costs by basing these payments on hospital uncompensated care costs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services concurred with this recommendation and indicated that the agency planned to implement it beginning in fiscal year 2021 to allow time for hospitals to collect and report reliable uncompensated care cost data. We believe this action could be implemented sooner.
    Recommendation: To ensure efficient use of federal resources, the Administrator of CMS should account for Medicaid payments a hospital has received that offset uncompensated care costs when determining hospital uncompensated care costs for the purposes of making Medicare UC payments to individual hospitals.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services concurred with this recommendation and indicated that the agency planned to implement it beginning in fiscal year 2021 to allow time for hospitals to collect and report reliable uncompensated care cost data. We believe this action could be implemented sooner.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that costs savings estimates are reliable, the Director of the USMS should direct its Prisoner Operations Division to develop reliable methods for estimating cost savings and validating reported savings achieved.

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we reported on United States Marshals Service's (USMS) actions to reduce prisoner-related costs from fiscal years 2010 through 2015. During the course of our review, we found that while USMS implemented actions that it reports have continued to save prisoner-related costs, USMS's methods to determine savings for certain actions were not reliable. For example, USMS identified $375 million in savings from the alternatives to pre-trial detention program for fiscal years 2010 through 2015, but did not verify the data or methodology used to develop the estimate or provide documentation supporting its reported savings for fiscal years 2012 onward. Consequently, we recommended that USMS direct its prisoner operations division to develop reliable methods for estimating cost savings and validating reports savings achieved. USMS concurred with our recommendation. In July 2016, USMS provided more information about how it would address the recommendation by confirming that its future cost savings estimates would be consistent with OMB guidelines for conducting benefit-cost analyses and GAO-identified practices for assessing the reliability of computer-processed data. Aligning USMS estimates with these identified practices would better position the agency to assess the effectiveness of its cost savings efforts. As USMS develops such mechanisms, we will request and consider documentation and other evidence to determine that USMS has implemented this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable USMS to more consistently identify deficiencies and monitor corrective actions, the Director of the USMS should establish a mechanism to aggregate and analyze the results of annual district self-assessments.

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we reported on United States Marshals Service's (USMS) actions to design systems to help identify cost savings opportunities. During the course of our review, we found that USMS has designed several systems for identifying cost savings, including, for example, developing a strategic plan and guidance for district officials that reinforce policies to provide for the safe, secure, and cost-effective containment of its prisoners. In addition, USMS requires districts to conduct annual self-assessments of their procedures to identify any deficiencies which could lead to cost savings. However, USMS cannot aggregate and analyze the results of the assessments across districts. As a result, we recommended that USMS establish a mechanism to aggregate and analyze the results of annual district self-assessments. USMS concurred with our recommendation. In July 2016, USMS informed us that the agency will develop a method to aggregate and analyze the results of the annual district self-assessments. However, it has not provided information on its plans or timelines to implement the recommendation. As USMS develops such mechanisms, we will consider documentation and other evidence to determine that USMS has implemented this recommendation.
    Director: Randall B. Williamson
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help provide reasonable assurance that VHA achieves its long-term goal of modernizing its claims processing system, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to ensure that the agency develops a sound written plan that includes the following elements: (1) a detailed schedule for when VHA intends to complete development and implementation of each major aspect of its new claims processing system; (2) the estimated costs for implementing each major aspect of the system; and (3) the performance goals, measures, and interim milestones that VHA will use to evaluate progress, hold staff accountable for achieving desired results, and report to stakeholders the agency's progress in modernizing its claims processing system.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of June 2017, VHA's Office of Community Care is in the process of consolidating VA's community care programs, and as part of this process it plans to transition to a third party administrator for the purposes of claims processing. While an active procurement is underway, VHA still needs to develop a written plan to fully implement this recommendation. VHA's written plan must include details about the schedule, cost estimates, performance goals, and interim milestones associated with transitioning to a third party administrator for the purposes of processing claims for VA community care.
    Director: Williamson, Randall B
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop and maintain medical sharing expertise within the network contracting offices, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to create a plan for increasing the retention of contracting officers that work in medical sharing teams.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, VHA reported that it is working on creating a plan for increasing the retention of contracting officers that work in medical sharing teams. The Medical Sharing Office (MSO) has taken several steps including conducting research on possible ways to minimize or eliminate steps within its existing plan and expanding the number of topical training provided virtually network contracting offices to develop competency in VHA Health Care 1102 staff. In addition, VHA reported they are developing a training schedule to ensure newly deployed interns have received the training and resource to successfully conduct health care contracts if they are assigned to health care resources team and continuing to collaborate with the field to ensure awareness of MSO support and assistance.
    Recommendation: To ensure VHA effectively communicates with its affiliates regarding SSACs, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to reach out to all of its affiliates, identify any concerns, and determine the most effective method of communicating with affiliates regarding SSAC development.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the VHA reported that it plans to have an Academic Affiliate Contracting Forum on August 15-16, 2017 in Nashville, TN or Dallas, TX for VHA staff responsible for health care contracts and University affiliates. The purpose of the Forum is to strengthen and advance the collaborative partnership for providing service to Veterans; share perspectives; and enhance awareness about processes, procedures and tools that will help make contracting processes faster and easier for all parties.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to collect and monitor deployed civilians' perceptions related to mental health care.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to leverage recommendations made by the RAND Corporation in its 2014 report on mental health stigma in the military to update and clarify policies as needed to remove stigmatizing provisions, such as career restrictions that may be too limiting for individuals who have received mental health care.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to establish a clear, consistent definition of those barriers to care generally understood by DOD as "mental health care stigma," to include explanations of its causes or contributing risk factors and ways that stigma is apparent in behaviors and policies.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to establish goals for efforts to address barriers to care generally understood by DOD as "stigma reduction efforts," and performance measures that link to these goals.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop a method to collect and analyze information on barriers to seeking mental health care, including stigma, so that reliable data may be gathered and used to measure the effectiveness of stigma reduction efforts over time.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to designate an entity to coordinate efforts to reduce mental health care stigma, among other barriers to care.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence to reissue consolidated guidance, incorporating subsequent updates for the denial or suspension of access to classified information and for assignment to sensitive duties based solely on information about mental health care.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: James Cosgrove
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of CMS to assess the feasibility of updating the agency's study on the effect of VA-provided Medicare-covered services on per capita county Medicare FFS spending rates by obtaining VA utilization and diagnosis data for veterans enrolled in Medicare FFS under its existing data use agreement or by other means as necessary.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reiterated its disagreement with our recommendation. HHS stated that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) uses Medicare fee-or-service(FFS) spending rates when setting the benchmark, which excludes services provided by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. In addition, HHS stated that incorporating VA utilization and diagnosis data into CMS's analysis may not materially improve the analysis and the resulting adjustment. HHS indicated that it will continue to review the need for incorporating additional data or for methodology changes in the future. As we note in the report, only VA's utilization and diagnosis data can account for services provided by and diagnoses made by VA. Depending on the number and mix of services provided by and the diagnoses made by VA, risk-adjusted Medicare FFS spending for veterans may either be higher or lower than it would be if CMS accounted for VA-provided services and diagnoses. Therefore, relying exclusively on Medicare FFS spending to estimate the effect of VA spending on Medicare FFS-enrolled veterans could result in an inaccurate estimate of how VA spending on services for Medicare FFS-enrolled veterans affects per capita county Medicare FFS spending. While there may be challenges associated with incorporating VA utilization and diagnosis data into CMS's analysis, we maintain that CMS should work to do so given the implications that not incorporating the data may have on the accuracy of payment to MA plans.
    Recommendation: If CMS makes an adjustment to the benchmark to account for VA spending on Medicare-covered services, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of CMS to assess whether an additional adjustment to MA payments is needed to ensure that payments to MA plans are equitable for veterans and nonveterans.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)has proposed adjusting the benchmark for 2017 to account for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spending on Medicare-covered services. As of July 2016, HHS had not yet completed its assessment of whether an additional adjustment to MA payments is needed to ensure that payment to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are equitable for veterans and nonveterans. In order to close this recommendation, CMS will need to complete its assessment.
    Director: James Cosgrove
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    5 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: As CMS continues to implement and refine the contract-level RADV audit process to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reducing and recovering improper payments and to improve the accuracy of CMS's calculation of coding intensity, the Administrator should modify that calculation by taking actions such as the following: (1) including only the three most recent pair-years of risk score data for all contracts; (2) standardizing the changes in disease risk scores to account for the expected increase in risk scores for all MA contracts; (3) developing a method of accounting for diagnostic errors not coded by providers, such as requiring that diagnoses added by MA organizations be flagged as supplemental diagnoses in the agency's Encounter Data System to separately calculate coding intensity scores related only to diagnoses that were added through MA organizations' supplemental record review (that is, were not coded by providers); and (4) including MA beneficiaries enrolled in contracts that were renewed from a different contract under the same MA organization during the pair-year period.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As CMS continues to implement and refine the contract-level RADV audit process to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reducing and recovering improper payments. The Administrator should modify CMS's selection of contracts for contract-level RADV audits to focus on those contracts most likely to have high rates of improper payments by taking actions such as the following: (1) selecting more contracts with the highest coding intensity scores; (2) excluding contracts with low coding intensity scores; (3) selecting contracts with high rates of unsupported diagnoses in prior contract-level RADV audits; (4) if a contract with a high rate of unsupported diagnoses is no longer in operation, selecting a contract under the same MA organization that includes the service area of the prior contract; and (5) selecting some contracts with high enrollment that also have either high rates of unsupported diagnoses in prior contract-level RADV audits or high coding intensity scores.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As CMS continues to implement and refine the contract-level RADV audit process to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reducing and recovering improper payments. The Administrator should enhance the timeliness of CMS's contract-level RADV process by taking actions such as the following: (1) closely aligning the time frames in CMS's contract-level RADV audits with those of the national RADV audits the agency uses to estimate the MA improper payment rate; (2) reducing the time between notifying MA organizations of contract audit selection and notifying them about the beneficiaries and diagnoses that will be audited; (3) improving the reliability and performance of the agency's process for transferring medical records from MA organizations, including assessing the feasibility of updating Electronic Submission of Medical Documentation for use in transferring medical records in contract-level RADV audits; and (4) requiring that CMS contract-level RADV auditors complete their medical record reviews within a specific number of days comparable to other medical record review time frames in the Medicare program.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As CMS continues to implement and refine the contract-level RADV audit process to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reducing and recovering improper payments. The Administrator should improve the timeliness of CMS's contract-level RADV appeal process by requiring that reconsideration decisions be rendered within a specified number of days comparable to other medical record review and first-level appeal time frames in the Medicare program.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As CMS continues to implement and refine the contract-level RADV audit process to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reducing and recovering improper payments. The Administrator should ensure that CMS develops specific plans and a timetable for incorporating a RAC in the MA program as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kathleen King
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that timely primary care is available and accessible to AI/AN people, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Director of IHS to monitor patient wait times in its federally operated facilities and ensure corrective actions are taken when standards are not met.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of June 2017, according to IHS, the implementation of an agency-wide standard for patient wait times will be accomplished as follows: A decision will be made on the standard to be used, by the IHS Director no later than July 2017. Using a pilot sample of facilities (two to four facilities), the standard will be assigned to the Area Directors over the selected pilot facilities in October 2017. Systems of measurement will be decided and communicated to the Area Directors for the pilot facilities. By December 31, 2017, three months of activity will be analyzed and evaluated against the standard. Between January and March, 2018, adjustments to the necessary systems of measure, or adjustments to the reasonably expected performance standard will be made. A final evaluation will be performed not later than September 2018, and final adjustments will be made to either the measurement system or the standard to allow for full implementation of the standard across all IHS Areas by October, 2018.
    Director: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to monitor the full amount of time newly enrolled veterans wait to be seen by primary care providers, starting with the date veterans request they be contacted to schedule appointments. This could be accomplished, for example, by building on the data collection efforts currently being implemented under the "Welcome to VA" program.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2016, GAO recommended that VA monitor the full amount of time newly enrolled veterans wait to be seen by primary care providers, starting with the date veterans request they be contacted to schedule appointments. VA concurred with this recommendation, and in June 2017, reported to GAO that it had taken actions to address this recommendation. Specifically, VA indicated that it revised an internal report to help identify and document all newly enrolled veterans and monitor their appointment request status. The report is intended to enable VHA and its medical centers to oversee the enrollment and appointment process by tracking the following timeframes: (1) application to enrollment, (2) enrollment to initial contact, (3) initial contact to primary care appointment, and (4) total time from application from appointment. However, VA also indicated in its response that it does not have data that captures application dates for all newly enrolled veterans. As a result, this report cannot be used to consistently monitor the full amount of time these veterans wait to be seen by primary care providers. To fully implement this recommendation VA needs to capture the application date for all newly enrolled veterans. Upon receiving further information about how and when VA plans to capture this information, we will assess whether VA's actions are sufficient to warrant closure of this recommendation.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) ability to make more effective business decisions across immigration detention facilities with respect to the provision of medical care, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct ICE to track inspection results and conduct analyses of oversight data over time, by standards, and by facility type.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, ICE has not provided a status update regarding the implementation of this recommendation. We will provide updated information after confirming any agency actions.
    Director: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    12 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to establish FHCC-specific selection criteria for the FHCC facility director and deputy director positions that include responsibilities and leadership competencies for effective collaboration.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to establish FHCC-specific selection criteria for the FHCC facility director and deputy director positions that include responsibilities and leadership competencies for effective collaboration.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to ensure that the evaluation of the leadership performance at the FHCC is carried out jointly between VA and DOD.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to ensure that the evaluation of the leadership performance at the FHCC is carried out jointly between VA and DOD.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to perform data-driven strategic workforce planning prior to implementing any future integration efforts.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to perform data-driven strategic workforce planning prior to implementing any future integration efforts.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to determine how best to fill the FHCC's short-term staffing needs, including any additional statutory authorities that might be necessary to implement the desired approach.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to determine how best to fill the FHCC's short-term staffing needs, including any additional statutory authorities that might be necessary to implement the desired approach.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to resolve differences in IT network security standards to the extent possible prior to implementing any future integration efforts.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should collaborate to resolve differences in IT network security standards to the extent possible prior to implementing any future integration efforts.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should direct FHCC leadership to provide additional guidance on the patient priority system to all staff responsible for approving consults and ensure that the monthly capability and capacity reports include information on all categories of FHCC patients defined by the patient priority system.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should direct FHCC leadership to provide additional guidance on the patient priority system to all staff responsible for approving consults and ensure that the monthly capability and capacity reports include information on all categories of FHCC patients defined by the patient priority system.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will update the status of this recommendation when we determine what steps the agency has taken to implement it.
    Director: Carolyn L. Yocom
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure states have appropriate and current guidance to assist them in designing and administering Medicaid NEMT, the Secretary of HHS should direct CMS to assess current Medicaid NEMT guidance and update that guidance as needed.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Debra Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to implement processes to review and monitor the Army military treatment facility prescribing practices for medications discouraged under the PTSD guideline and address identified deviations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We requested an update on the status of this recommendation. As of June 21, 2016, we are waiting for a response from DOD.
    Director: James Cosgrove
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to prevent the shift of services from physician offices to HOPDs from increasing costs for the Medicare program and beneficiaries, Congress should consider directing the Secretary of HHS to equalize payment rates between settings for E/M office visits--and other services that the Secretary deems appropriate--and to return the associated savings to the Medicare program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kathleen M. King
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen oversight of the provision of care coordination services in the Financial Alignment Demonstration, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of CMS to expediently develop and require organizations in the capitated model, and the states in the MFFS model, to report comparable core data measures across the demonstration that measure the following: (1) the extent to which interdisciplinary care team meetings are occurring, and (2) for MFFS states, the extent to which health risk assessments are completed.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, CMS officials told us they are exploring whether it would be feasible to identify and develop additional measures related to interdisciplinary care team meetings and health risk assessment completion within the demonstration period. For the first part of our recommendation, CMS officials said that they did not believe it was feasible to implement a care team measure during the demonstration period. For the second part of our recommendation, CMS officials said they had begun discussions with their existing CMS contractor about the level of effort required to develop and implement a health risk assessment measure in the Managed-Fee-For-Service (MFFS) demonstrations. CMS also planned to have discussions with the MFFS model states about the feasibility of collecting and reporting this type of data. As of June 2017, HHS officials have not informed us of any actions taken to implement this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen oversight of the provision of care coordination services in the Financial Alignment Demonstration, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of CMS to align CMS's existing state-specific measures regarding the extent to which individualized care plans are being developed across the capitated and MFFS states to make them comparable and designate them as a core reporting requirement.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, CMS officials said they planned to use an existing CMS contractor to develop a care plan measure that more closely aligns the specifications across demonstrations. As of June 2017, HHS officials have not informed us of any actions taken to implement this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Kathleen M. King
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that HHS workforce efforts meet national needs, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should develop a comprehensive and coordinated planning approach to guide HHS's health care workforce development programs--including education, training, and payment programs--that (1) includes performance measures to more clearly determine the extent to which these programs are meeting the department's strategic goal of strengthening health care; (2) identifies and communicates to stakeholders any gaps between existing programs and future health care workforce needs identified in the Health Resources and Services Administration's workforce projection reports; (3) identifies actions needed to address identified gaps; and (4) identifies and communicates to Congress the legislative authority, if any, the Department needs to implement the identified actions.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, HHS indicated that the agency had not yet taken steps to implement a comprehensive workforce planning effort. Officials said that for the FY2018 cycle, HHS had planned to expand its group developing legislative proposals to include budget issues and gaps that warrant attention. While it did not do so during that cycle, officials indicated that they would recommend this broader approach to workforce planning for future budget and legislative cycles.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance HHS's ability to protect public health from the impacts of climate change, the Secretary of HHS should direct CDC to develop a plan describing when it will be able to issue climate change communication guidance to state and local health departments, to better position relevant officials to effectively communicate about the risks that climate change poses to public health and address requirements of the Climate Ready States and Cities Initiative.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, CDC has taken steps to start developing a communications strategy, and expects this process to include the development of guidance for public health officials to help them more effectively communicate about the health effects of climate change. CDC expects the strategy to be completed by the fall of 2017.
    Director: Debra Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the effective recruitment and retention of nurses across VA medical centers, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to develop a periodic reporting process to help monitor VA medical center compliance with the policies and procedures for each of its key recruitment and retention initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VHA convened a taskforce with accompanying charter to address all three of GAO's recommendations, including medical center compliance with policies and procedures for the key recruitment and retention initiatives. The taskforce consists of workgroups that are charged with reviewing current processes for reporting on compliance for the eight recruitment and retention initiatives we identified in our report, identifying opportunities for improvement, and developing recommendations to optimize medical centers' reporting on compliance. Based on the workgroup recommendations, VHA will generate and implement program-specific approaches for reporting on compliance of the initiatives. As of March 2017, the workgroups have reviewed, or are in the process of reviewing, compliance reporting processes for all eight initiatives. VHA anticipates implementing compliance reporting processes by October 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the effective recruitment and retention of nurses across VA medical centers, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to evaluate the adequacy of training resources provided to all nurse recruiters at VA medical centers to ensure that they have the tools and information to perform their duties efficiently and effectively.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VHA convened a taskforce with accompanying charter to address all three recommendations, including evaluating training resources provided to nurse recruiters. VHA stated that it held nurse recruiter training in April 2016 to address immediate training needs and incorporated survey results and recommendations from the field on the training at an August 2016 curriculum redesign meeting. VHA's next national nurse recruiter training sessions are to be held in April and November 2017, as well as four additional intermittent training sessions. In October 2016, VHA stated that it had established a national nurse recruitment division that will focus on national oversight, guidance, training, monitoring of nursing workforce and recruitment matters but did not provide an anticipated date for when it would be able to staff and stand up the new division. VHA noted that it will pursue an external study examining the effectiveness of the role of the nurse recruiter in VHA and a comparison of the effectiveness of nurse recruiters assigned to nurses offices versus those assigned to human resources offices. However, VHA did not provide any information on when it plans to pursue or complete such an evaluation. VHA also noted that the taskforce is exploring improved data collection tools and methods to routinely evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of training resources provided to nurse recruiters at VA medical centers.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the effective recruitment and retention of nurses across VA medical centers, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to conduct a system-wide evaluation of VHA's key nurse recruitment and retention initiatives, to determine the overall effectiveness of these initiatives, including any needed improvements, and communicate results and information in a timely manner to relevant stakeholders.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VHA convened a taskforce with accompanying charter to address all three of GAO's recommendations, including conducting a system-wide evaluation of VHA's key nurse recruitment and retention initiatives and identifying areas for improvement. The taskforce consists of workgroups that are charged with reviewing current processes for reporting on compliance for the eight recruitment and retention initiatives we identified in our report, identifying opportunities for improvement, and developing recommendations to optimize medical centers' reporting on compliance. Based on the workgroup recommendations, VHA will generate and implement program-specific approaches for reporting on compliance of the initiatives. As of March 2017, taskforce has evaluated, or is in the process of evaluating, the effectiveness of each of the eight initiatives. VHA anticipates completing these evaluations by October 2017. However, VHA did not provide any information on its efforts to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the key initiatives in meeting VHA's system-wide nurse recruitment and retention goals.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with appropriate and more complete information on the continuing implementation, management, and oversight of the DHA, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to develop a comprehensive requirements assessment process that accounts for needed future skills through the consideration of potential organizational changes and helps ensure appropriate consideration of workforce composition through the determination of the final status of military personnel within the DHA.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, DOD has taken some steps to implement this action. According to an April 2017 letter from the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), DOD has established processes and procedures to create an overall personnel management process which are documented in a draft Administrative Instruction estimated to be finalized and published by July 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with appropriate and more complete information on the continuing implementation, management, and oversight of the DHA, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to develop a plan for reassessing and revalidating personnel requirements as the missions and needs of the DHA evolve over time.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, DOD has taken some steps to implement this action. According to an April 2017 letter from the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), DOD has established processes and procedures to create an overall personnel management process which are documented in a draft Administrative Instruction estimated to be finalized and published by July 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with appropriate and more complete information on the continuing implementation, management, and oversight of the DHA, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to determine the future of the Public Health and Medical Education and Training shared services by either identifying common functions to consolidate to achieve cost savings or by developing a justification for the transfer of these functions from the military services to the DHA that is not premised on cost savings.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, DOD has taken some steps to implement this action. According to an April 2017 letter from the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), DOD has changed the designation of its Public Health function from a shared service to a division. This change recognizes the distinction that we previously highlighted between a shared service, or the consolidation of functions previously performed by the military services, and a transfer of functions from the military services to the DHA. The letter states that DOD is in the process of assessing business case analyses for various efficiency efforts, with one proposal estimated to save $613 million over three years. DOD has not taken similar action with regard to its Medical Education and Training shared service. As we previously reported in our prior update, while DOD cites future cost savings in its modeling and simulation and online learning product lines, we reported in 2014 that these initiatives overlap with the DHA's Contracting and Procurement and Information Technology shared services. For example, while cost savings for Modeling and Simulation are allocated to the Medical Education and Training Directorate, implementation costs are to be incurred by the Contracting and Procurement shared service. This recommendation will remain open until DOD either identifies common functions to consolidate within Medical Education and Training to achieve cost savings or develops a justification for the transfer of these functions from the military services to the DHA that is not premised on cost savings.
    Director: James Cosgrove
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve its oversight of network adequacy in MA, the Administrator of CMS should augment MA network adequacy criteria to address provider availability.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a January 2016 update that CMS will review how to augment the MA network adequacy criteria to address provider availability in future years. As of September 2016, agency officials have not implemented this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve its oversight of network adequacy in MA, the Administrator of CMS should verify provider information submitted by MAOs to ensure validity of the Health Services Delivery data.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a January 2016 update that the agency is working to standardize existing protocols to ensure the validity of the Health Services Delivery data submitted by MAOs with regards to exceptions requests and partial county justifications. However, unless CMS verifies provider information submitted by MAOs, the agency cannot be confident that MAOs are meeting network adequacy criteria. As of September 2016, agency officials have not implemented this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve its oversight of network adequacy in MA, the Administrator of CMS should expand network adequacy reviews by requiring that all MAOs periodically submit their networks for assessment against current Medicare requirements.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In a January 2016 update, the agency noted that CMS has expanded its reviews to include both existing and new service areas for network adequacy when MAOs apply for a service area expansion, However, unless CMS periodically requires evidence of compliance of all existing MAO networks, the agency cannot be confident that MAOs are meeting network adequacy criteria. As of September 2016, agency officials have not implemented this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve its oversight of network adequacy in MA, the Administrator of CMS should set minimum requirements for MAO letters notifying enrollees of provider terminations and require MAOs to submit sample letters to CMS for review.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In a January 2016 update, the agency noted that the Medicare Marketing Guidelines contain best practice suggestions of what should be included in the written termination notice; however, we note in our report those practices are not required, nor are the letters regularly reviewed. The agency also noted that it was considering rulemaking to require that MAOs submit sample written notices of termination to HHS for review and approval. As of September 2016, agency officials have not implemented this recommendation.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to improve the Army Reserve's and the Army National Guard's internal control procedures to ensure that individual soldier availability information in each data system is complete, accurate, and timely by increasing the scope and frequency of data quality reviews at the unit and national levels to address issues resulting from self-reporting and inaccurate inputs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and implement ways that the Army reserve components can facilitate timely updates of availability data between all data systems through the current system interfaces to improve the relevance and value of the data that management is using to make soldier availability-related decisions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop a plan with timelines and take actions accordingly to address the backlog of Line of Duty investigations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to revise the Line of Duty program regulation to include procedures that would address implementation challenges that contribute to delays in the processing of Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers' claims of incurring service-connected injuries and illnesses, such as by including the identification of and procedures to address non-compliance by soldiers, and take steps to expeditiously issue that revised program regulation.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that junior enlisted servicemembers who need and rely on the services and programs provided on military installations have access when needed and that departmental leadership has visibility over issues affecting this population, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in collaboration with the Secretaries of the military services and other defense agency leaders to review current data-collection mechanisms and consider appropriate additions and revisions to help ensure that specific information on junior enlisted servicemember access to on-base services and programs is collected, available, and disseminated to relevant decision makers, and have decision makers take appropriate action on the basis of that information.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that junior enlisted servicemembers who need and rely on the services and programs provided on military installations have access when needed and that departmental leadership has visibility over issues affecting this population, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in collaboration with the Secretaries of the military services and other defense agency leaders to review existing methods of information sharing on initiatives and other good practices identified within and across the department, the military services, and individual installations and consider adding mechanisms to better leverage those existing methods--such as the Common Services Task Force--to help ensure that issues associated with junior enlisted servicemember access are identified and, to the extent possible, addressed, and that such information is shared at all levels of the department.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kathleen M. King
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: CMS should conduct a formal analysis, using its experience and data it has collected since the implementation of the first MAC contracts, to determine whether alternative contracting approaches could be used--even if only for selected MAC contract responsibilities--to help promote improved contractor performance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Randall B. Williamson
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure DHA can accurately and consistently assess mental health provider staffing needs across each of the military services, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to require the medical commands of each military service to include its estimated mental health provider staffing needs generated through PHRAMS in the requirements fields of DHA's quarterly mental health staffing reports.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to ensure DHA, through the PHRAMS contractor, continue to refine PHRAMS to incorporate the needs of the military services to reduce the need for additional service-specific methods of determining mental health provider staffing needs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To ensure the Defense Health Agency (DHA) can accurately and consistently assess mental health provider staffing needs across each of the military services, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to require the medical commands of each military service to report any additional service-specific methods they use to determine their final estimates of mental health provider staffing needs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to require the National Capital Region Medical Directorate to include its estimated mental health provider staffing needs generated through PHRAMS in the requirements fields of DHA's quarterly mental health staffing reports.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Depending on the outcome of the litigation, the Secretary of Labor should take steps to ensure the agency will be positioned to conduct a meaningful retrospective review consistent with the Executive Order at an appropriate time. These steps should be taken in consultation with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and could include, for example, identifying metrics that could be used to evaluate the rule, and implementing a plan to gather and analyze the necessary data.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) agreed with this recommendation and reported that it is working to develop data collection plans and explore a potential evaluation that is focused on the Home Care Rule. As part of this effort, WHD noted that it will continue to work with HHS and other federal partners. In FY16, WHD reported that such an evaluation of how stakeholders and affected industries have responded to the rule would be beneficial. However, litigation has delayed implementation and enforcement of the rule significantly, and WHD believes an evaluation at this stage would be premature and would be unlikely to fully and accurately capture stakeholders' responses to the rule and the resulting impacts. Delaying the evaluation would allow WHD to monitor the results of its own investigations and the effects of ongoing compliance assistance, both of which would be extremely difficult to measure at this early stage. WHD will continue to monitor early implementation to determine the appropriate start for any evaluation.
    Director: Dave Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote and enhance federal, state, and local NEMT coordination activities, the Secretary of Transportation, as the chair of the Coordinating Council, should convene a meeting of the member agencies of the Coordinating Council and complete and publish a new or updated strategic plan that, among other things, clearly outlines a strategy for addressing NEMT and how it can be coordinated across federal agencies that fund NEMT service.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) concurred with this recommendation. As of November 2016, FTA stated that Administrator-level members of the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM) met in July 2016 to begin the process of developing a strategic plan. A follow-up meeting of the same group is planned for December 2016. According to FTA, it is anticipated this meeting will result in agreement on a strategic plan framework and that interagency working groups will begin implementation of the framework in early 2017. Based on the minutes of the July 2016 CCAM meeting, emerging themes identified for the strategic plan included improved access to medical care and to better coordinate transportation planning, particularly integrating transportation planning into healthcare planning. This recommendation will be kept open pending finalization of the strategic plan framework and how it relates to NEMT.
    Recommendation: To promote and enhance federal, state, and local NEMT coordination activities, the Secretary of Transportation, as the chair of the Coordinating Council, should convene a meeting of the member agencies of the Coordinating Council and finalize and issue a cost-sharing policy and clearly identify how it can be applied to programs under the purview of member agencies of the Coordinating Council that provide funding for NEMT.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FTA concurred with this recommendation. As of November 2016, FTA stated that Administrator-level members of the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility met in July 2016 to begin the process of developing a strategic plan. A follow-up meeting of the same group is planned for December 2016. According to FTA, it is anticipated the December meeting will result in agreement on a strategic plan framework and that interagency working groups will begin implementing the plan in early 2017. FTA expects development of a cost-sharing policy and proposed model will be an objective in the strategic plan. We plan to keep this recommendation open pending completion of the strategic plan framework and further information related to implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To promote and enhance federal, state, and local NEMT coordination activities, the Secretary of Transportation, as the chair of the Coordinating Council, should convene a meeting of the member agencies of the Coordinating Council and using the on-going work of the Health, Wellness, and Transportation working group and other appropriate resources, (1) identify the challenges associated with coordinating Medicaid and VA NEMT programs with other federal programs that fund NEMT, (2) develop recommendations for how these challenges can be addressed while still maintaining program integrity and fraud prevention, and (3) report these recommendations to appropriate committees of Congress. To the extent feasible, the Coordinating Council should implement those recommendations that are within its legal authority.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FTA said they concurred in part with this recommendation. FTA announced the selection of 19 Rides to Wellness Demonstration and Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility pilot projects, totally about $7.3 million, in September 2016. According to FTA, seven of the 19 projects have a NEMT focus. In addition, during 2016 FTA conducted outreach sessions in various cities throughout the United States to discuss partnership opportunities between the health and transportation industries. FTA stated that a new series of NEMT-specific listening sessions is now underway and additional sessions are planned for 2017. The purpose of these sessions is to identify challenges related to NEMT coordination that will be addressed by Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM) working groups in the future. CCAM is also in the process of developing a strategic plan framework. FTA anticipates agreement on this framework in December 2016. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act requires CCAM to develop and publish a strategic plan. FTA anticipates issues related to this recommendation will be developed through 2020. We plan to keep this recommendation open to further monitor CCAM and FTA progress and the extent challenges are identified and addressed related to better coordinating Medicaid and VA NEMT with other NEMT programs in the federal government, through the strategic plan framework or other actions resulting from the listening sessions.
    Director: Chris P. Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the Secretary of Homeland Security's ability to assess national preparedness and provide management oversight of federal interagency efforts to close previously identified capability gaps, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA--in coordination and collaboration with the National Security Council Staff and other federal departments and agencies--to collect information on and regularly report to the Secretary the status of federal interagency implementation of corrective actions identified (1) through prior national-level exercises and (2) following real-world incidents, specifically major disasters.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, FEMA officials reported that the agency had developed an approach for collecting and reporting on the status of federal interagency corrective actions from Level I disasters to add to the current practice of reporting on national level exercises. According to officials, the proposed approach was under review and the agency plans to coordinate with the other federal departments and agencies before submitting their proposal to DHS for final approval. In August 2017, FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate reported an expected completion date of December 29, 2017. Pending completion of this effort, this recommendation remains open.
    Director: Linda T. Kohn
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to include in the CMS Compare websites, to the extent feasible, estimated out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries for common treatments that can be planned in advance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015 CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. Specifically, it is actively investigating options for allowing a more targeted and consumer-centric individual user experience on Physician Compare. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to organize cost and quality information in the CMS Compare websites to facilitate consumer identification of the highest-performing providers, such as by listing providers in order based on their performance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to include in the CMS Compare websites the capability for consumers to customize the information presented, to better focus on information relevant to them.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. Specifically, it is evaluating feasibility of including estimated out-of-pocket costs on physician compare. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to develop specific procedures and performance metrics to ensure that CMS's efforts to promote the development and use of its own and others' transparency tools adequately address the needs of consumers.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. CMS also noted that Physician Compare is in the early stages of public reporting, and is evaluating the feasibility of listing providers based on their performance in the new carefinder.gov project. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Director: St James, Lorelei
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the management of VA's leased outpatient-clinic projects, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should update VHA's guidance for leasing outpatient clinics to better reflect the roles and responsibilities of all VA staff involved in leasing projects.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: On March 30, 2017, the Executive Director, Office of Construction and Facilities management told GAO that VA intends to issue an updated Leasing Manual by the end of fiscal year 2017. GAO plans to close this recommendation when the new manual is issued.
    Director: Randall Williamson
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve VA's ability to address its strategic plan objective of educating and empowering veterans, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to take steps to better understand gaps in veterans' knowledge regarding eligibility for Millennium Act emergency care, such as by conducting veteran surveys of health care benefits knowledge, and using information from those surveys to more effectively tailor the agency's education efforts regarding the Millennium Act benefit. In conducting these surveys, consideration should be given to including a sample of veterans who have had denied Millennium Act claims in order to provide their views and specific details of their experiences.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, VA has taken some actions to address this recommendation, but additional actions are needed to fully implement it. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information from VA.
    Director: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In an effort to ensure that IHS has meaningful information on the timeliness with which it issues purchase orders authorizing payment under the CHS program and to improve the timeliness of payments to providers, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should direct the Director of IHS to: (1) modify IHS's claims data system to separately track IHS referrals and self-referrals, revise the Government Performance Results Act measure for the CHS program so that it distinguishes between these two types of referrals, and establish separate timeframe targets for these referral types; and (2) improve the alignment between CHS staffing levels and workloads by revising its current practices, where appropriate, to allow available funds to be used to pay for CHS program staff.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2016, HHS officials reported that they have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: As HHS and IHS monitor the effect that new coverage options available to IHS beneficiaries through PPACA have on CHS program funds, the Secretary of HHS direct should the Director of IHS to proactively develop potential options to streamline program eligibility requirements.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2016, HHS officials reported that they have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Crosse, Marcia G
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to reduce the administrative costs associated with a fragmented MAI grant structure that diminishes the effective use of HHS's limited HIV/AIDS funding, and to enhance services to minority populations, HHS should consolidate disparate MAI funding streams into core HIV/AIDS funding during its budget request and allocation process.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS stated that it does not support the consolidation of Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI)funds into core funding. As of September, 2016, we are still awaiting an update from HHS on the status of any efforts to implement this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: In order to reduce the administrative costs associated with a fragmented MAI grant structure that diminishes the effective use of HHS's limited HIV/AIDS funding, and to enhance services to minority populations, HHS should seek legislation to amend the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990 or other provisions of law, as necessary, to achieve a consolidated approach.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS stated that it does not support the consolidation of Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) funds into core funding. As of September, 2016, we are still awaiting an update from HHS on the status of any efforts to implement this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Draper, Debra A
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with more complete information on the continued appropriateness of the current pharmacy services contract structure, and to ensure the best value and services to the government and beneficiaries, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to conduct an evaluation of the potential costs and benefits of alternative contract structures for the TRICARE pharmacy services contract.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The current TRICARE pharmacy services contract began in May 2015, with 1 base year and 7 option years. DOD officials stated that they intend to conduct an evaluation of the potential costs and benefits of alternative contract structures as they undergo the next acquisition cycle. GAO will continue to follow up on these recommendations as DOD begins its acquisition planning efforts for the next cycle.
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with more complete information on the continued appropriateness of the current pharmacy services contract structure, and to ensure the best value and services to the government and beneficiaries, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to incorporate such an evaluation into acquisition planning.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD officials stated that they intend to include such an evaluation in their acquisition planning for the next acquisition cycle. GAO will continue to follow up on these recommendations as DOD begins its acquisition planning efforts for the next cycle.
    Director: Powner, David A
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct appropriate officials to assess whether it would be cost effective to consolidate the remaining functions of the Medicare coverage determination systems.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: We contacted the department and are awaiting a response on its efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure successful outreach efforts resulting in significant new enrollment, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of IHS to prepare for the increase in eligibility for expanded Medicaid and new coverage options, and the need for enrollment assistance and billing capacity, by realigning current resources and personnel to increase capacity to assist with these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, IHS has reported that it developed a business plan template to help maximize capacity building and enrollment activities at the local level in coordination with IHS Headquarters and Area Offices. The agency reported that it will monitor the overall implementation process through performance plan evaluations of local leadership by their respective Area Directors. Until we receive documentation of these efforts, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure successful outreach efforts resulting in significant new enrollment, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of CMS to develop a plan to educate state Medicaid agencies about when coverage status information may be shared between states and IHS facilities, tribal facilities, and urban Indian health programs (I/T/U) facilities and tribes.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, CMS officials reported that the agency has implemented a plan to educate state Medicaid agencies about when coverage status information may be shared between states and I/T/U facilities on a case by case basis because of variation in how this information is shared from state to state. Until we receive documentation of the plan and its implementation, this recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Williamson, Randall B
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To effectively manage fee basis care spending, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should revise the beneficiary travel eligibility regulations to allow for the reimbursement of travel expenses for veterans to another VAMC to receive needed medical care when it is more cost-effective and appropriate for the veteran than seeking similar care from a fee basis provider.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2015, VA has taken some actions to address this recommendation, but additional actions are needed to fully implement it. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information from VA.
    Recommendation: To effectively manage fee basis care wait times and spending, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to analyze the amount of time veterans wait to see fee basis providers and apply the same wait time goals to fee basis care that are used as VAMC-based wait time performance measures.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2014, VHA established a new wait-time goal, which is that veterans should be seen within 30 days of the date that an appointment is deemed clinically appropriate by a VA health care provider, or if no such clinical determination has been made, the date a veteran prefers to be seen for hospital care or medical services. While VHA has been monitoring the timeliness of VHA-based care according to this standard, it has not been applying the same standard to community-based care, including care delivered through the Veterans Choice Program. Therefore, VHA cannot determine whether veterans are receiving care in the community sooner or later than they otherwise would receive care at VA medical facilities. To fully implement this recommendation, VHA needs to take steps to ensure that its wait-time policies and procedures for both VHA-based care and community-based care (fee basis care) are aligned.
    Recommendation: To ensure that VA Central Office effectively monitors fee basis care, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to ensure that fee basis data include a claim number that will allow for VA Central Office to analyze the episode of care costs for fee basis care.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2015, VA has taken some actions to address this recommendation, but additional actions are needed to fully implement it. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information from VA.
    Director: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Should the Congress decide to cap payments for physician and other nonhospital services made through IHS's CHS program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of IHS to monitor CHS program patient access to physician and other nonhospital care in order to assess how any new payment rates may benefit or impede the availability of care.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with GAO's recommendation and indicated that monitoring patient access to care in light of any payment changes is essential to providing high-quality health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. Since there have not been any changes to the payment rates, IHS has not yet implemented this recommendation.
    Director: Draper, Debra A
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure reliable measurement of veterans' wait times for medical appointments, the Secretary of VA should direct the Under Secretary for Health to take actions to improve the reliability of wait time measures either by clarifying the scheduling policy to better define the desired date, or by identifying clearer wait time measures that are not subject to interpretation and prone to scheduler error.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendations to revise its scheduling policy to implement more reliable wait time measures and require all schedulers to complete standardized training on a revised scheduling policy. In July 2016, VA published VHA Directive 1230-Outpatient Scheduling Processes and Procedures, which updated and replaced the prior policy. Although the updated directive provides new instructions for scheduling appointments, the new instructions, which form the basis for measuring wait times, are still subject to scheduler interpretation, making training vital to consistent and accurate implementation of the policy. According to VHA, Directive 1230 was developed to correspond with a technical enhancement to the scheduling system, known as the Vista Scheduling Enhancement (VSE), which will also require training. As of November 2016, VHA reported that the majority of staff with scheduling access had been trained on the new directive and that separate training on VSE was scheduled to begin in February 2017. GAO cannot assess whether VHA scheduling staff are accurately implementing the new scheduling policy until the VSE roll-out is complete and all relevant staff are trained on the new system.
    Recommendation: To better facilitate timely medical appointment scheduling and improve the efficiency and oversight of the scheduling process,the Secretary of VA should direct the Under Secretary for Health to take actions to ensure that VAMCs consistently and accurately implement VHA's scheduling policy, including use of the electronic wait list, as well as ensuring that all staff with access to the VistA scheduling system complete the required training.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendations to revise its scheduling policy to implement more reliable wait time measures and require all schedulers to complete standardized training on a revised scheduling policy. In July 2016, VA published VHA Directive 1230-Outpatient Scheduling Processes and Procedures, which updated and replaced the prior policy. Although the updated directive provides new instructions for scheduling appointments, the new instructions, which form the basis for measuring wait times, are still subject to scheduler interpretation, making training vital to consistent and accurate implementation of the policy. According to VHA, Directive 1230 was developed to correspond with a technical enhancement to the scheduling system,known as the Vista Scheduling Enhancement (VSE), which will also require training. As of November 2016, VHA reported that the majority of staff with scheduling access had been trained on the new directive and that separate training on VSE was scheduled to begin in February 2017. GAO cannot assess whether VHA scheduling staff are accurately implementing the new scheduling policy until the VSE roll-out is complete and all relevant staff are trained on the new system.
    Recommendation: To improve timely medical appointment scheduling, the Secretary of VA should direct the Under Secretary for Health to develop a policy that requires VAMCs to routinely assess clinics' scheduling needs and resources to ensure that the allocation of staffing resources is responsive to the demand for scheduling medical appointments.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation and noted that it would ask VA facilities to routinely assess clinics' availability and ensure staff are distributed to meet access standards for clinics, as well as revising and implementing improved clinic management tools. In February 2015, VHA noted that it had finalized a Scheduling Resource Assessment report to address this recommendation. In December 2016, VHA noted that the Scheduling Resource Assessment tool had been further enhanced and clarified that the training for this tool is not mandatory and use of the tool is optional. Although VHA has developed this and other tools, such as the Clinic Access Report, Wait Time List Report, Missed Opportunity report, it has not developed and implemented a policy that requires VAMCs to routinely assess clinics' scheduling needs and resources. Without such policy, we believe it is not clear how these tools should be used together or who is responsible for assessing scheduling needs and resources and for making operational decisions. To close this recommendation, VA needs to develop a policy that requires its medical centers to routinely assess clinics' scheduling needs and resources to ensure that the allocation of staffing resources is responsive to the demand for scheduling medical appointments.
    Recommendation: To improve timely medical appointments and to address patient and staff complaints about telephone access,the Secretary of VA should direct the Under Secretary for Health to ensure that all VAMCs provide oversight of telephone access and implement best practices outlined in its telephone systems improvement guide.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation and stated that VISN and VA Medical Center leadership would use best practices to develop and implement improved telephone service plans. As of March 2015, VHA had developed a standardized telephone assessment tool and requested that facilities that care for 5,000 or more veterans complete the assessment and select actions for improvement based on its existing telephone systems improvement guide. Based on this request, VHA received telephone assessment and improvement plans from 286 facilities that care for 5,000 or more veterans. VHA is monitoring the facilities' telephone performance and is re-baselining call center infrastructure at each facility with a survey and new performance goals. In September 2015, VHA issued an updated Telephone Access and Contact Management Improvement Guide. VHA has also drafted an update to its directive on telephone access, but as of January 2017, it had not been published.
    Director: Williamson, Randall B
    Phone: (206)287-4860

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that servicemembers have equitable access to the military services' wounded warrior programs, including the RCP, and to establish central accountability for these programs, the Secretary of Defense should establish or designate an office to centrally oversee and monitor the activities of the military services' wounded warrior programs to include the following: (1) Develop consistent eligibility criteria to ensure that similarly situated recovering servicemembers from different military services have uniform access to these programs; (2) Direct the military services' wounded warrior programs to fully comply with the policies governing care coordination and case management programs and any future changes to these policies; (3) Develop a common mechanism to systematically monitor the performance of the wounded warrior programs--to include the establishment of common terms and definitions--and report this information on a biannual basis to the Armed Services Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD did not concur with our part (1) of our recommendation to develop consistent eligibility criteria, explaining that the three military department secretaries should have the ability to control entrance criteria into their wounded warrior programs and that varying eligibility criteria have not resulted in noticeable differences in access to these programs by recovering servicemembers or their families. In attachments to a memo dated April 8, 2014, DOD provided an update on progress made to implement parts (2) and (3) of the DOD-specific recommendation made in GAO-13-5. Regarding part (2), DOD reported that budget constraints had delayed its plan to conduct oversight visits to 63 service sites over a 12-month period to ensure that military wounded warrior programs were operating in compliance with DOD Recovery Coordinator Program policy. DOD stated that the Warrior Care Policy office, in coordination with the military service branches, had intended to begin these oversight visits and interviews in September 2013; that as of March 2014, five sites had been reviewed; and that results of the compliance visits would be available upon completion. Regarding part (3) of the recommendation, DOD's memo stated that DOD and VA continue work on developing policies on clinical and non-clinical care coordination. It also noted that interagency metrics for monitoring complex care coordination performance were under development by the DOD/VA Interagency Care Coordination Committee. Further, DOD stated that because the Joint Executive Council publishes an annual report, that reporting the progress in developing common terms and definitions used by wounded warrior programs to congressional committees would be of limited value. As of October 2016, when we determine what additional steps the agency has taken to implement this recommendation, we will update this information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that persistent challenges with care coordination, disability evaluation, and the electronic sharing of health records are fully resolved, the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs should ensure that these issues receive sustained leadership attention and collaboration at the highest levels with a singular focus on what is best for the individual servicemember or veteran to ensure continuity of care and a seamless transition from DOD to VA. This should include holding the Joint Executive Council accountable for (1) ensuring that key issues affecting recovering servicemembers and veterans get sufficient consideration, including recommendations made by the Warrior Care and Coordination Task Force and the Recovering Warrior Task Force; (2) developing mechanisms for making joint policy decisions; (3) involving the appropriate decision-makers for timely implementation of policy; and; (4) establishing mechanisms to systematically oversee joint initiatives and ensure that outcomes and goals are identified and achieved.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of October 2016, under the joint DOD/VA Interagency Care Coordination Committee, the departments have made progress to improve nonclinical care coordination procedures, primarily through the development of two initiatives?the Lead Coordinator initiative (in which a single care coordinator serves as the primary point of contact for a recovering servicemember) and through the use of a single, interagency care plan (ICP) for each recovering servicemember. As of March 2016, the departments were continuing the national rollout of the Lead Coordinator initiative and had trained nearly 3,700 DOD and VA personnel on the new process. In addition, DOD and VA continued the development of the ICP initiative, which will depend upon their ability to electronically exchange the information needed to implement servicemembers' care plans. In December 2015, DOD awarded a contract to support the ICP and to create electronic interoperability with VA. The departments anticipate testing their ability to exchange information digitally in June 2016 and achieving full operational capability by September 2016. We will continue to monitor progress to implement the joint Lead Coordinator and the ICP care coordination initiatives.
    Recommendation: To ensure that persistent challenges with care coordination, disability evaluation, and the electronic sharing of health records are fully resolved, the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs should ensure that these issues receive sustained leadership attention and collaboration at the highest levels with a singular focus on what is best for the individual servicemember or veteran to ensure continuity of care and a seamless transition from DOD to VA. This should include holding the Joint Executive Council accountable for (1) ensuring that key issues affecting recovering servicemembers and veterans get sufficient consideration, including recommendations made by the Warrior Care and Coordination Task Force and the Recovering Warrior Task Force; (2) developing mechanisms for making joint policy decisions; (3) involving the appropriate decision-makers for timely implementation of policy; and; (4) establishing mechanisms to systematically oversee joint initiatives and ensure that outcomes and goals are identified and achieved.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2016, under the joint DOD/VA Interagency Care Coordination Committee, the departments have made progress to improve nonclinical care coordination procedures, primarily through the development of two initiatives?the Lead Coordinator initiative (in which a single care coordinator serves as the primary point of contact for a recovering servicemember) and through the use of a single, interagency care plan (ICP) for each recovering servicemember. As of March 2016, the departments were continuing the national rollout of the Lead Coordinator initiative and had trained nearly 3,700 DOD and VA personnel on the new process. In addition, DOD and VA continued the development of the ICP initiative, which will depend upon their ability to electronically exchange the information needed to implement servicemembers' care plans. In December 2015, DOD awarded a contract to support the ICP and to create electronic interoperability with VA. The departments anticipate testing their ability to exchange information digitally in June 2016 and achieving full operational capability by September 2016. We will continue to monitor progress to implement the joint Lead Coordinator and the ICP care coordination initiatives.
    Director: Draper, Debra A
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To facilitate the departments' current collaboration efforts, VA and DOD should systematically identify areas where department-level actions could help address significant barriers that hinder collaboration. Specifically, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should expedite and communicate a plan with time frames for when iEHR solutions will be made available to joint ventures and other collaboration sites.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information
    Recommendation: To facilitate the departments' current collaboration efforts, VA and DOD should systematically identify areas where department-level actions could help address significant barriers that hinder collaboration. Specifically, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should expedite and communicate a plan with time frames for when iEHR solutions will be made available to joint ventures and other collaboration sites.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information
    Recommendation: To facilitate the departments' current collaboration efforts, VA and DOD should systematically identify areas where department-level actions could help address significant barriers that hinder collaboration. Specifically, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should take steps to resolve problems with collaboration sites' incompatible business and administrative processes, including reimbursement for services, collection of workload information, dual credentialing, and computer security training.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information
    Recommendation: To facilitate the departments' current collaboration efforts, VA and DOD should systematically identify areas where department-level actions could help address significant barriers that hinder collaboration. Specifically, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should take steps to resolve problems with collaboration sites' incompatible business and administrative processes, including reimbursement for services, collection of workload information, dual credentialing, and computer security training.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information
    Recommendation: To facilitate the departments' current collaboration efforts, VA and DOD should systematically identify areas where department-level actions could help address significant barriers that hinder collaboration. Specifically, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should clarify, as part of the newly initiated joint efforts to address base access, departmental guidance regarding collaboration to include a discussion of base access issues that local officials should consider when discussing and planning collaboration efforts; this could include a discussion of successful approaches that current collaboration sites have adopted to facilitate base access for veterans and their escorts.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information
    Recommendation: To facilitate the departments' current collaboration efforts, VA and DOD should systematically identify areas where department-level actions could help address significant barriers that hinder collaboration. Specifically, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense should clarify, as part of the newly initiated joint efforts to address base access, departmental guidance regarding collaboration to include a discussion of base access issues that local officials should consider when discussing and planning collaboration efforts; this could include a discussion of successful approaches that current collaboration sites have adopted to facilitate base access for veterans and their escorts.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information
    Director: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure an equitable allocation of CHS program funds, the Congress should consider requiring IHS to develop and use a new method to allocate all CHS program funds to account for variations across areas that would replace the existing base funding, annual adjustment, and program increase methodologies, notwithstanding any restrictions currently in federal law.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, Congress has not acted on this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation if Congress takes action.
    Recommendation: To make IHS's allocation of CHS program funds more equitable, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of the Indian Health Service to require IHS to use actual counts of CHS users, rather than all IHS users, in any formula for allocating CHS funds that relies on the number of active users.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To make IHS's allocation of CHS program funds more equitable, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of the Indian Health Service to require IHS to use variations in levels of available hospital services, rather than just the existence of a qualifying hospital, in any formula for allocating CHS funds that contains a hospital access component.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To make IHS's allocation of CHS program funds more equitable, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of the Indian Health Service to develop written policies and procedures to require area offices to notify IHS when changes are made to the allocations of funds to CHS programs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Williamson, Randall B
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to better inform future budget requests, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should develop a sound methodology for estimating savings from new operational improvements. This methodology should include: (1) an explanation of how savings from each operational improvement will be achieved; (2) an explanation for the basis of any assumptions included in the savings estimates; and (3) an implementation plan that includes a realistic timeline for implementation, to help ensure that savings can be achieved within the targeted time frame.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2012, we recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) develop a sound methodology for estimating savings from new operational improvements in future budget submissions. While VA concurred with this recommendation, in June 2016, VA reported that it intends to implement this recommendation when new operational improvements are proposed in the budget. However, recent budget submissions have not included operational improvements.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should develop a detailed process for tracking VA's actual savings resulting from those operational improvements for which we identified concerns. This process should provide detailed written guidance for those responsible for tracking the savings, which outlines the methodology for calculating savings.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2012, we recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) develop a detailed process for tracking VA's actual savings resulting from those operational improvements for which we identified concerns. While VA partially concurred with this recommendation, in June 2016, VA reported that it has no future plans to fully implement this recommendation.
    Director: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202)512-5154

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop more accurate data for estimating the funds needed for the CHS program and improving IHS oversight, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of IHS to develop a written policy documenting how IHS evaluates need for the CHS program and disseminate it to area offices and CHS programs to ensure they understand how unfunded services data are used to estimate overall program needs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, IHS reported in October 2015 that it was completing a comprehensive update of a policy chapter related to the Contract Health Services (CHS) Program (also called the Purchased/Referred Care Program). The agency indicated that this revised chapter would incorporate a written policy on how IHS evaluates need for the CHS program. It indicated that the chapter update had been under revision since December 20, 2012, with final approval anticipated in 2015. In July 2017, IHS indicated that the policy was still under development and would be issued to all IHS sites by September 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To develop more accurate data for estimating the funds needed for the CHS program and improving IHS oversight, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of IHS to provide written guidance to CHS programs on a process to use when funds are depleted and there is a continued need for services, and monitor to ensure that appropriate actions are taken.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, IHS reported in October 2015 that it developed and distributed Fund Management Standardization guidance to Area Offices to monitor compliance by federal Contract Health Services (CHS) program (also called the Purchased/Referred Care program) Service Units. Also, IHS issued standardized spending plan procedures to all Area Offices and Federally-operated programs. Also, it indicated that spending plan guidance would be included in an update of a policy chapter related to the CHS program. The agency indicated that this chapter had been under revision since December 20, 2012, with final approval anticipated in 2015. In July 2017, IHS indicated that the policy was still under development and would be issued to all IHS sites by September 30, 2017.
    Director: Kohn, Linda T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As HHS implements its current and forthcoming efforts to make transparent price information available to consumers, HHS should determine the feasibility of making estimates of complete costs of health care services available to consumers through any of these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2013, CMS released average inpatient hospital charge information for more than 3,000 hospitals that receive Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System payments for the 100 most frequently billed discharges using DRGs from FY2011 and corresponding average Medicare payments. Shortly thereafter CMS also released outpatient charges. In April 2014, CMS also released data on payments to physicians under Medicare part B. This represents an effort to provide price transparency, although these are not complete cost estimates according to our definition in this report. As of September 2015, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: As HHS implements its current and forthcoming efforts to make transparent price information available to consumers, HHS should determine, as appropriate, the next steps for making estimates of complete costs of health care services available to consumers.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2015, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Draper, Debra A
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: PPACA contained several important program integrity provisions for the 340B program, and additional steps can also ensure appropriate use of the program. Therefore, the Secretary of HHS should instruct the administrator of HRSA to finalize new, more specific guidance on the definition of a 340B patient.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, HRSA withdrew proposed guidance that included further specificity on the definition of 340B patient in response to the new administration's January 20 memorandum directing agencies to withdraw regulations that were pending before the Office of Management and Budget but had not yet been published in the Federal Register.
    Recommendation: PPACA contained several important program integrity provisions for the 340B program, and additional steps can also ensure appropriate use of the program. Therefore, the Secretary of HHS should instruct the administrator of HRSA to issue guidance to further specify the criteria that hospitals that are not publicly owned or operated must meet to be eligible for the 340B program.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, HRSA withdrew proposed guidance that included additional specificity regarding hospital eligibility in response to the new administration's January 20 memorandum directing agencies to withdraw regulations that were pending before the Office of Management and Budget but had not yet been published in the Federal Register.
    Director: Williamson, Randall B
    Phone: (206)287-4860

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help identify risks and address vulnerabilities in physical security precautions at VA medical facilities, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to require relevant medical center stakeholders to coordinate and consult on (1) plans for new and renovated units, and (2) any changes to physical security features, such as closed-circuit television cameras.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Iritani, Katherine M
    Phone: (206)287-4820

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In light of the need for accurate and complete information on children's access to health services under Medicaid and CHIP, the requirement that states report information to CMS on certain aspects of their Medicaid and CHIP programs, and problems with accuracy and completeness in this state reporting, the Administrator of CMS should establish a plan, with goals and time frames, to review the accuracy and completeness of information reported on the CMS 416 and CHIP annual reports and ensure that identified problems are corrected.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, CMS said that it was taking new steps to review data on children's access and quality of care by reviewing required reports that evaluate states' Medicaid managed care plans; however, these reports do not represent a consistent set of measures used by all states that CMS can use for oversight purposes. Accurate, complete, and reliable data for both Medicaid and CHIP are necessary for CMS's oversight of children's access to services. GAO considers this recommendation open.
    Recommendation: In light of the need for accurate and complete information on children's access to health services under Medicaid and CHIP, the requirement that states report information to CMS on certain aspects of their Medicaid and CHIP programs, and problems with accuracy and completeness in this state reporting, the Administrator of CMS should work with states to identify additional improvements that could be made to the CMS 416 and CHIP annual reports, including options for reporting on the receipt of services separately for children in managed care and fee-for-service delivery models, while minimizing reporting burden, and for capturing information on the CMS 416 relating to children's receipt of treatment services for which they are referred.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, CMS said that it had changed the instructions for completing the CMS 416 to provide more detailed guidance for states on capturing required information on the total number of children who were referred for treatment services. However, CMS is not planning to require states to submit information on whether children received the treatment services for which they were referred. We maintain that having ability to monitor receipt of treatment services, receipt of services in managed care separate from fee-for-service, and having data from all states is important to CMS oversight. GAO considers this recommendation open.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202)512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better understand the extent to which deployed DOD civilian employees have access to needed medical care, as appropriate, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Combatant Commander of U.S. Central Command to clarify the level of care that deployed DOD civilian employees can expect in theater, including their eligibility for routine care.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, DOD has not taken all the steps to close this recommendation. A DOD official stated that, as a result of changes in theater, there have been changes in guidance regarding medical care and they believe the guidance is clear, but they have not received guidance from the Secretary of Defense directing them to clarify the level of care that deployed civilian employees can expect in theater, including their eligibility for routine care.
    Director: Iritani, Katherine M
    Phone: (206)287-4820

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the provision of dental care to children covered by Medicaid and CHIP, and to help ensure that HHS's Insure Kids Now Web site is a useful tool to help connect children covered by Medicaid and CHIP with participating dentists who will treat them, the Secretary of HHS should establish a process to periodically verify that the dentist lists posted by states on the Insure Kids Now Web site are complete, usable, and accurate, and ensure that states and participating dentists have a common understanding of what it means for a dentist to indicate he or she can treat children with special needs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS has reported taking steps to improve the data on the Insure Kids Now website, including establishing an ongoing system to check that data are in the correct format and conducting validation surveys. HHS has also reported that CMS will provide technical assistance to low performing States and develop mechanisms to better identify providers that serve children with special health care needs. As of September 2017, CMS has not indicated that it has communicated with states and providers on what it means for a dentist to indicate he or she can treat children with special needs. We will leave this recommendation open until the agency takes steps to ensure that states and participating dentists have a common understanding of what it means for a dentist to indicate he or she can treat children with special needs.
    Recommendation: To enhance the provision of dental care to children covered by Medicaid and CHIP, and to help ensure that HHS's Insure Kids Now Web site is a useful tool to help connect children covered by Medicaid and CHIP with participating dentists who will treat them, the Secretary of HHS should require states to verify that dentists listed on the Insure Kids Now Web site have not been excluded from Medicaid and CHIP by the HHS-OIG, and periodically verify that excluded providers are not included on the lists posted by the states.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2017, CMS has not indicated the agency has required states to ensure that excluded providers are not listed on the Insure Kids Now website and has not indicated that the agency has taken steps to periodically verify that excluded providers are not listed. CMS has said that it relies on states to provide accurate lists of eligible dentists and that data issues prevent the agency from independently verifying that excluded providers are not included on the Insure Kids Now website. We continue to believe that CMS should require states to ensure that excluded providers are not listed on the website and periodically verify that excluded providers are not included on the lists posted by the states, so that the website does not present inaccurate information about providers available to serve Medicaid-covered children.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202)512-3604

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Consistent with DOD emphasis on developing human capital solutions across the services to enable departmentwide decision making and analyses within its Military Health System, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the Service Secretaries to identify the common medical capabilities that are shared across the services in their military treatment facilities that would benefit from the development of cross-service medical manpower standards.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Sept 2014 Update: Since the issuance of our report in 2010, DOD officials established a Defense Health Agency as of October 1, 2013, with the goal to take advantage of opportunities to adopt common business and clinical practices. Related to this effort, a joint collaborative team between the Navy, Army, and Air Force was developed to create a joint Internal Medicine manpower standard. The primary goals were to identify similarities and differences in standard development processes across the three services, develop joint processes (service-specific execution) with hopes of an integrated standard, and gain efficiencies through combination of knowledge, resources, and experience. To reach this goal, the team had multiple meetings/teleconferences to better understand each service's manpower requirements determination process, and concept of application and implementation guidelines. There were multiple Internal Medicine clinic sites visits through which the Tri-Service team identified similarities, differences, and lessons learned. From the above effort, it became clear that the services needed to all agree on productivity targets before moving forward in the clinical areas. The three services and DHA are currently in discussion to develop Tri-Service productivity targets for clinical areas. Moreover, the Military Health System Executive Review (MHSER) has endorsed minimum productivity levels for many clinical specialties. Since efforts are still ongoing within the services and the DHA, the recommendation should remain open. JULY 2015 UPDATE: According to a DHA Official, the Manpower and Personnel Operations Group was formed in early 2015. This group contains two subworking groups--one on manpower and the other on personnel. The overall group is working on a plan to develop common staffing models and an implementation plan to put them into action. At this time, the group's efforts are still in process and no common staffing models are in practice yet. Overall, the group is working on developing a minimum level of staffing needed in different specialties across the services. The group is also working on a Demand Based Staffing Model to help the enhanced-Multi Service Markets (eMSMs) to address the concern about the number of providers that are needed in these markets across the services to support the workload of the market. This model has been piloted at Peuget Sound, the NCR, and in Norfolk. It has also been briefed to the MDAG but it is not releasable at this time. Tis recommendation should remain open until such a time later that these groups have completed their initial work on models that will be used to more directly address the commons staffing requirements and the models.
    Recommendation: Consistent with DOD emphasis on developing human capital solutions across the services to enable departmentwide decision making and analyses within its Military Health System, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the Service Secretaries to, where applicable, develop and implement cross-service medical manpower standards for those common medical capabilities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Sept. 2014 Update: Since the issuance of our report in 2010, DOD officials established a Defense Health Agency as of October 1,2013, with the goal to take advantage of opportunities to adopt common business and clinical practices. Service and DHA officials have formed a joint collaborative team to develop standard manpower requirements as well as productivity goals for Internal Medicince capability area. Because they are still taking action related to this recommendation, it should remain open. JULY 2015: With the formation of the Manpower and Personnel Operations Group, HA, the services, and DHA continue to address staffing and manpower issues such as common staffing models. These are currently in development and none have been put into practice yet. The group is also developing a Demand Based Staffing Model to assist the enhanced Multi Service Markets (eMSMs) with determining the number and distribution of medical personnel within these markets. Until further work is done by the Operations Group, this recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Cosgrove, James C
    Phone: (202)512-7029

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that changes in Medicare payment methods for dialysis care do not adversely affect beneficiaries, the Administrator of CMS should monitor the access to and quality of dialysis care for groups of beneficiaries, particularly those with above average costs of dialysis care, under the new bundled payment system. Such monitoring should begin as soon as possible once the new bundled payment system is implemented and be used to inform potential refinements to the payment system.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2010, we recommended that the Administrator of CMS monitor the access to and quality of dialysis care for groups of beneficiaries, particularly those with above average costs, under the new bundled payment system to help ensure that changes in the Medicare payment methods for dialysis care do not adversely affect. We further specified that such monitoring begin as soon as possible once the new bundled payment system is implemented. CMS implemented the expanded bundled payment system for dialysis care in January 2011. As of August 2011, CMS is collecting data on dialysis care utilization that could be used to examine access to and quality of dialysis care by groups of beneficiaries. Although CMS anticipates using these data to identify potential problems in dialysis care, the agency has not begun using these data to examine access to and quality of care by groups of beneficiaries, nor has finalized plans to do so.
    Director: Williamson, Randall B
    Phone: (206)287-4860

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help DOD obtain reasonable assurance that all active and Reserve component servicemembers to whom the PDHRA requirement applies are provided the opportunity to have their health concerns identified, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the military services should take steps to ensure that PDHRA questionnaires are included in DOD's central repository for each of these servicemembers.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments to this report, the Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation. On October 2009, DOD's Force Health Protection and Response Office sent a memo to each of the military service Surgeons General emphasizing the need for the post-deployment health reassessment (PDHRA) to be offered to all service members who are eligible to complete the assessment. In 2010, DOD's noted that the services would work with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) repository to ensure PDHRAs are submitted correctly, without transmission errors. DOD's 2011 case records showed that the Air Force and Army had developed data verification processes to ensure that AFHSC received PDHRAs. Further, the Defense Medical Data Center (DMDC) had planed to create a file consisting of the date of deployment for deployed personnel, and that the file would be available to the services in order to match DMDC with data from each of the service-specific systems, in accordance to requirements. In September 2011, although DMDC and the services had agreed to match rosters of deployed service members, there were still inconsistencies in deployment dates. In March 2012, DOD was still verifying data inconsistencies which, until resolved, leads to inaccurate reporting based on errors in the deployment dates.
    Director: Dicken, John E
    Phone: (202)512-7043

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help states identify and address quality-of-care concerns among individuals with developmental disabilities receiving Medicaid HCBS waiver services, the Administrator of CMS should encourage states to (1) include death as a critical incident and conduct mortality reviews if they do not already do so and (2) broaden their mortality review processes if they already include death as a critical incident and conduct mortality reviews.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2009, CMS stated that it anticipated adding a question about mortality reviews to its next web-based version of the Home and Community-Based Services waiver application. CMS also indicated at that time that the next application version (i.e., Version 3.6) would be released in 2010. However, in July 2010, CMS indicated that this version would not be produced until 2011. In its 2011 update, CMS indicated that the version 3.6 online application had not yet been operationalized and therefore the recommendation should be left open until next year. In July 2013, CMS stated that version 3.6 remains on hold and that the agency is exploring other options for addressing this recommendation, with a target completion date of 12/31/2014.
    Director: Steinwald, Alan Bruce
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the contribution of physicians to Medicare spending in total, the Administrator of CMS should develop a profiling system that identifies individual physicians with inefficient practice patterns and, seeking legislative changes as necessary, use the results to improve the efficiency of care financed by Medicare. The profiling system should include methods for measuring the impact of physician profiling on program spending and physician behavior.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: Physician feedback reporting was initiated under section 131(c) of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), and was expanded by section 3003 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In addition, PPACA required the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate the physician feedback program with a Value Modifier (VM) that will adjust fee-for-service physician payments for the relative quality and cost of care provided to beneficiaries. In 2012, CMS provided Quality and Resource Use Reports (QRUR) to large providers nationwide and physician-focused QRURs to groups with 25 or more eligible providers in 9 states; by 2014, CMS sent QRURs to all group practices and solo practitioners. Also, as required in the act, CMS applied the VM to select physicians in 2015, with all physicians being subject to VM by 2017. The Act requires the VM to be implemented in a budget neutral manner, meaning that any upward payment adjustments for high performance must balance the downward payment adjustments applied for poor performance. CMS officials said they develop and will continue to develop experience reports related to each year's QRUR/VM cycle. In 2015, CMS used VM results for physicians in groups of 100 or more in public engagement of stakeholders, encouraging them to report quality, because quality performance was the driver of the payment adjustments in 2015. CMS is working with its Center for Clinical Standards and Quality to think of how to better engage physicians and groups in reporting, to avoid the automatic downward adjustment. As the program gains experience, CMS will use the experience reports to examine the impact of QRURs and VM on the Medicare program. In order for this recommendation to be closed as implemented, CMS will need to expand its efforts to measure the impact of QRURs and VM on program spending and physician behavior.