Congress allows veterans to seek care outside VA system

August 01, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care 

Congress yesterday sent a $17 billion landmark bill to President Obama that will help U.S. veterans avoid long waits for health care within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). There was overwhelming support in both the Senate (91-3) and House (unanimous) for the bill, which will provide $10 billion in emergency spending over the next three years to allow veterans to seek care from private doctors and other health professionals due to delays in the VA system.

Veterans would have access to private doctors if they could not get an appointment with the VA within 30 days or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic.

The bill also includes $5 billion for hiring more VA doctors, nurses and other medical staff; and another $1.3 billion to open 27 new VA clinics across the country. The legislation also makes it easier to fire hospital administrators and senior VA executives for negligence or poor performance.

The American Medical Association (AMA) applauded the move. “The AMA believes that all Americans should have timely access to health care, especially those who bravely serve our country,” said AMA President Robert M. Wah, M.D. “Our nation’s physicians can and should be a part of the solution to ensure America’s veterans can access the care they need and deserve.”


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