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Health Services Research & Development

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FORUM - Translating research into quality health care for Veterans

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Director's Letter: The Impact of Health Care Reform on VA Research

Seth A. Eisen, M.D., M.Sc.

The VA health care system has many advantages for Veterans—quality care that equals or exceeds care in the civilian environment; a broad range of health care services; expertise in managing the health consequences of war; and an electronic health care record that improves access and continuity of care—all provided at low cost to Veteran patients.

However, the cost advantages to Veterans of obtaining health care from the VA may change in the next few years with the full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (i.e., health care reform). Increasing numbers of Veterans may seek care outside the VA health care system, and VA enrollment may decline.

To continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive health care environment, the VA will need to emphasize quality health care and service even further. VA investigators will have an important role in helping to ensure the VA's success. As investigators develop their individual research projects, it is imperative that system impact be considered. It is no longer sufficient to think only of the issues addressed in individual research projects. Rather, investigators must design their projects with a vision as to what additional research efforts may be required to improve the VA health care system. Innovative and inspired ideas will be needed.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has an appropriately proud history of care. Health services research will remain an important component of continuing success.

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