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Washington, D.C., June 10, 2014– Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), original co-sponsor of the Veterans Access to Care Act of 2014, applauds the passing of H.R. 4810, which directs the Secretary of the VA to enter into contracts with non-Department facilities to provide care for eligible covered veterans who have waited longer than the wait-time goals of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
"Our heroes deserve health care they can depend on," said Schweikert. "The mismanagement we’ve seen from recent reports and investigations into the Veterans Affairs (VA) detail delayed claims, poor processing procedures, and extended wait times."
"This bill will hold the VA accountable moving forward, with quarterly reports to Congress on hospital care and medical services, and directs the Secretary of the VA to contract with non-Department healthcare facilities, providing the private quality care that our veterans deserve. I truly believe it will put our veterans’ health and wellbeing on the front line."
In early April, a Veterans Affairs Inspector General report detailed medical care failures and administrative misconduct at numerous VA facilities. A recent interim report details a system-wide pattern of scheduling manipulation of veterans’ appointment times and an audit from earlier this week shows over 700 VHA facilities have more than 50,000 veterans waiting for 90 days or more for an initial appointment.
Background: This bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts with non-Department facilities as necessary to provide care for eligible covered veterans. Those who are “covered veterans” include: those enrolled under section 1705 of title 38 who had waited longer than the wait-time goals of the Veterans Health Administration, had been notified that an appointment was not available within those wait-times, resides more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility or who makes an election to receive care at a non-Department facility. The Secretary must also ensure that those who elect to have their care at a non-Department facility receive appropriate follow-up care, including all specialty and ancillary services deemed necessary. The Secretary is given the authority to carry this section out for a period of two years.
The Secretary is required to submit to Congress a quarterly report on hospital care and medical services and should include: the number of veterans who received care at non-Department facilities; the number of veterans who elected to continue waiting for an appointment at a Department facility; the purchase methods and rate of payment for individual authorizations for care at non-Department facilities, and; any other measure the Secretary sees fit.
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