Military Connection: Bill to Reform VA Healthcare: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

Senate Bill

Last week, Republicans in the Senate said that they would produce legislation permitting Veterans who are under the VA healthcare system to seek treatment at any hospital within 40 miles of their homes.

The Senate bill,  “The Veterans Choice Act of 2014” seeks to allow Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system to pursue non-emergency treatment at a facility of their choosing. Veterans must first attempt to get treatment from the VA.  If, however, they have not  been able to schedule an appointment with their VA facility within the current wait time goals of the Veterans Health Administration, they would be free to go outside the system for the delivery of such care and services.

Allowing Veterans to obtain the care they need when they need it by allowing them to seek treatment at local hospitals during long wait-time periods at VA hospitals seems like a reasonable solution during the VA’s current crises of wait time scandals. If Veterans are in need of care, and the VA can’t provide it, Veterans should be able to get the care they are entitled to, period. Even if that care is provided outside of the VA, they should have that option.

The bill would also permit Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system to seek private care if they reside more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility. This  freedom of care would be a blessing to many Veterans, especially those in rural areas, who often have to drive several hours for their appointments.

The Veterans Choice Act of 2014 is also set to contain verbiage that is similar to a bill that was passed in the House. The bill will also give the VA secretary the power to remove any VA executive, based on performance.

Many measures in this bill would get to the root of the current shortcomings within the VA healthcare system. Let us hope, for the sake of Veterans, that this bill or one that confronts the same issues will pass quickly through the process.

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Military Connection: Bill to Reform VA Healthcare: By Debbie Gregory