Arlington, VA – Today Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) released a coalition letter with 16 different organizations urging Congress to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical system. The coalition includes Concerned Veterans for America, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action for America, Americans for Tax Reform, and more. Read the letter and see the full list of organizations here.
In an open letter sent to Congress, the broad coalition of groups addressed three areas of improvement for the VA medical system. These include: an increase in health care choice for veterans at the VA, protection for the nation’s taxpayers, and increased transparency around costs and quality of VA care.
The letter comes just a day before the House Veterans Affairs Committee is set to meet for a hearing to discuss reform to the Veterans Choice Program.
CVA Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Congress must embrace reforms to the VA medical system to ensure veterans receive the best care available and that taxpayer dollars are not being wasted. Over the past ten years, the VA’s budget has more than doubled – far outpacing growth in the veteran population. Ensuring funds are being spent efficiently will allow the VA to provide veterans with a higher level of care for years to come.
“Until Congress passes permanent VA health care reform that empowers our veterans with more choice in their health care, many veterans will continue to be trapped in failing VA health care facilities. Congress should not be afraid to enact bold reform for the VA to ensure that our heroes get the timely and quality care they have earned.”
The Veterans Choice Program, which was enacted under the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act, was implemented in response to the wait list scandal of 2014. It was passed as a stop-gap measure and was never intended to be a permanent solution. The Choice Program has faced several issues and failed to give many veterans real choice in their health care.
Last Monday, the VA released its new plan to eliminate the arbitrary 30-day, 40-mile rule that served as the basis of the Veterans Choice Program. The VA’s proposed plan would allow any veteran who faces a wait time that is not “a clinically acceptable period” to seek specialty care outside of the VA. Secretary Shulkin has advocated for this rule to be eliminated and for veterans to have greater control over the care they receive.
CVA has advocated for sweeping choice reforms at the VA for years. In CVA’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce, the group advocates that veterans should have the option to take their earned health care benefits and use them to access care at the VA or in the private sector.