Legislation presented to give veterans the choice of private-sector care
TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - New legislation is making its way through congress that would make it easier for veterans to access private-sector care.
The Veterans Health Care Freedom Act could potentially allow veterans to find and schedule necessary appointments at private-sector clinics instead of having to go through the VA.
“This shouldn’t be a political issue, this should be a desire to take care of America’s sons and daughters who put themselves in harms way.”
The bill aims to cut down on wait times for veterans who seek medical care. In some cases, the wait could be as long as 30 days for routine doctors’ visits. Right now, veterans must get the approval of the VA before receiving any care from a doctor or medical facility outside their network, something that Army Veteran and Social Worker Jeffrey Yarvis says could be improved.
“I think legislation like this would be a really big deal for veterans,” he said.
“There’s certainly different types of specialties that some VA’s don’t have in every single location that could range from behavioral health, cardiology, nephrology.”
If the bill were to become law, veterans would only need approval from their primary-care doctor. Some health experts like Amy Mersiovsky with Texas A&M Central Texas says this could go a long way for both veterans that live in urban areas as well as VA locations without the proper staff and coverage.
“Not every veteran lives close to the VA,” she said.
“So, could definitely decrease some travel restrictions. They may also be able to schedule things faster because availability and more specialists will be at larger institutions.”
If passed, the legislation would direct the VA to test the program in both rural and urban areas becoming permanent across the country after four years.
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