What We're Reading: Privatizing VA Medical Care

What we're reading, December 29, 2016: President-elect Donald J. Trump considers privatizing veterans' medical care; a new task force to improve sharing of pregnancy status data; and medical marijuana legalization reduced traffic fatalities.

President-elect Donald J. Trump is considering a change to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that would allow veterans to see private doctors of their choosing. The New York Times reported that the plan would let veterans opt out of care at VA hospitals. At this time there are no details on the cost or how the change would affect the current VA system. President Barack Obama opposes such a privatization of the VA, as do some veterans groups.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has formed a task force to better capture pregnancy status data in the fight against the Zika virus. The task force will address the capture of pregnancy status, sending and sharing pregnancy status, and the use of clinical decision support. Pregnancy status is central to a CDC Zika registry that provides monitoring of pregnant women and infant outcomes.

Some states that legalized medical marijuana have seen a reduction in the number of traffic fatalities. According to Reuters Health, the expected increase in the number of people killed in traffic accidents did not materialize—instead deaths dropped 11% on average. The study does not show the reason for the drop in traffic deaths, but some researchers suggest marijuana users are more aware of their impairment than drinkers. Currently, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana.