VA Healthcare Reform: Senators Propose Radical Changes To Give Veterans The Care They Need

As veterans continue to struggle with longer wait times at the VA, both a senator and two congressmen have offered solutions for how to fix the VA healthcare system. The proposals to fix the VA healthcare system come after it was discovered that over 200,000, or one-third of veterans waiting to receive care, had died. Recommendations for fixing the system range from a simple change in appointment scheduling to privatizing the system.

As reported in the Military Times, Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers, a Republican from Washington State and the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, proposed allowing veterans to schedule appointments online.

“We need to be welcoming new solutions, and not just protecting an outdated model or having the only solution be more money. We’ve already put a lot of money into VA… and clearly there’s not the results.”

Under Rogers’ legislation, the plan would create a pilot program for six VA medical centers to allow veterans to schedule appointments online. This would give veterans more control over their VA healthcare.

In an opinion piece in the Morning Call, Representative Charlie Dent, a Republican from the 15th District in Pennsylvania, said that veterans deserve to choose their healthcare. He went on to say that older veterans should not have to travel so far in order to receive the care they need. Only 25 percent of the 21.6 million veterans in America live within 40 miles of a VA medical facility. The other 75 percent must travel at least 40 miles and sometimes up to 250 miles to reach a VA facility.

Integrating the current VA healthcare system with the civilian healthcare system allows the VA to focus on service-connected conditions that include traumatic brain injury, prosthetics, PTSD, behavioral health, exposure to Agent Orange, and any other conditions directly related to military service. The lack of accountability at the VA is the same even though Congress took steps to make it easier for the Veterans Administration to fire bad employees.

Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, also recommended that veterans have the option to seek private care. He pointed out that Veterans Affairs had been slow to implement the Choice plan, a plan that would allow veterans to seek care outside the VA.

“More than a year after the VA scandal first came to light and a year since VA reform legislation was signed into law, wait times are still too long and veterans are still not getting the care they have earned and deserve.”

What do you think is the solution to the VA healthcare crisis? Should the VA privatize all healthcare or simply allow veterans to choose their healthcare?

[Photo Credit Think Progress/Shutterstock]

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