Military Connection: VA Permits Private Healthcare for Veterans: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory

veterans day 5

The Obama administration has cleared the way for more veterans to receive veteran health benefits at private hospitals and clinics in an attempt to improve their treatment.

VA facilities are maximizing the capacity of their clinics to allow veterans to receive care much sooner.  At VA facilities where officials are unable to broaden capacity, the Department of Veterans Affairs will expand healthcare access through non-veteran healthcare facilities.

As the VA deals with allegations of treatment delays and falsified records at various VA centers throughout the nation, lawmakers from both parties have pushed for this policy change. There are 26 VA facilities currently under investigation, which include the Phoenix VA hospital.  Officials are investigating claims that VA employees have falsified appointment records to cover up delays in care.

The allegations have increased concerns about the administration’s management of a department that has been having difficulties, especially with the increased numbers if separating military coming back home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, there are more Vietnam veterans requiring more healthcare as they get older.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla, Chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said

that “the endless discussion regarding allegations, investigations and unreliable internal VA reviews overlooked the VA’s very real, very deadly, and very well-documented delays in care problem.”

Miller has proposed legislation giving any veteran who is not able to get a VA appointment within 30 days of application the option to go outside the VA system at the department’s expense.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called for the VA to permit more veterans to receive medical care at private hospitals.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said recently that she was ready to accept the idea of medical care at private hospitals.  She said it was unsatisfactory to have a backlog of patients waiting for approval to go to a federally qualified clinic.