Under a new law proposed before Congress, veterans would be able to get private-sector care and have the VA pay for it much easier.
The legislation is called the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act, and it would allow vets to find and make their own appointments at private-sector offices that fall within the department’s network.
That means vets would no longer need to get approval from the department if they want to get community care. They would simply need their primary-care doctor to give them approval.
“This legislation is a step in the right direction that ensures our veterans will be able to obtain timely and quality care,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., the bill’s sponsor. “By allowing our veterans to access community care facilities, we can ensure that no veteran goes without care.”
The legislation is largely based on 2016 recommendations by a congressionally appointed commission, which included a proposal to allow veterans themselves to choose their private-sector care to alleviate wait times.
The time it takes a veteran to receive community care by going through the current referral system varies depending on where they live, the services they need, and the urgency of the health situation.via Military.com
According to the VA, when a vet needs urgent care they are consistently getting it within two days in the community. When it comes to scheduling routine care, on average that takes 30 days.
The VA is being pushed to make sure vets’ can get the appointments they need in a timely manner.
If the new legislation passes, there would be a required testing phase where the VA must implement the new program for 3 years in multiple locations. After four years, the program would then be implemented nationwide.
The VA’s proposed budget for next year received a $7.6B increase from Biden. A portion of this boost is reportedly directly tied to the larger role of private-sector care, stated VA Secretary McDonough.