Abraham, Ghali pitch LSU partnership to VA Secretary
WASHINGTON - Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., and LSU Health Science Center - Shreveport Chancellor Dr. G. E. Ghali pitched a plan to Department of Veteran Affairs Sec. David Shulkin on Tuesday on ways LSU can partner with Overton Brooks to improve veterans’ access to health care.
Under the plan, LSU’s medical students, residents and fellows would work with the VA and the veterans who use it to address shortages in neurology, orthopedics and internal medicine. Dr. Abraham and Dr. Ghali believe that such an arrangement would benefit veterans across North Louisiana who rely on Overton Brooks for health care, and it would benefit the students learning at LSU.
“We know there are continuing issues at the Shreveport veterans hospital that must be solved. This is one way we can use existing resources available to us to further enhance the quality of care our nation’s heroes deserve,” said Dr. Abraham, a veteran and a graduate of LSU HSC Shreveport. “I appreciate Sec. Shulkin for his interest in this proposal, and I thank Dr. Ghali for his willingness to work with the federal government to benefit our veterans.”
Sec. Shulkin reached out in March to a number of medical school chancellors across the country, including LSU, asking for input on how to form stronger partnerships between the VA and academic institutions. Tuesday’s meeting provided an opportunity for Drs. Abraham and Ghali to address the barriers that are keeping academic partnerships from forming and how to work through those issues.
“We just want the opportunity to make this work. We have a lot of interest from people who want to work at the VA but also tie into the academic side. This should be interchangeable,” Dr. Ghali said.
The plan would rely on Choice funds to be used to reimburse providers at academic affiliates to come to the VA facility to provide care. Contract exceptions and “fast track” agreements have worked in the past, and Drs. Abraham and Ghali believe Shreveport is an ideal setting to use this method again.
“This is a partnership that can happen, and I will continue to work toward making it a reality. It’s a win-win for our veterans and for LSU,” Dr. Abraham said.