Veterans were promised they’d be cared for after serving our country. But too often, the country doesn’t fulfill that promise. The Department of Veterans Affairs acts as a barrier to veterans seeking timely, quality health care, and puts the needs of the bureaucracy above the needs of the veterans it is supposed to serve.
This is unacceptable. We are on a mission to ensure veterans get the care they deserve.
The VA MISSION Act was signed into law to give more veterans access to medical care through their VA benefits at non-VA providers. The Guaranteeing Healthcare Access to Personnel Who Served (GHAPS) Act would write into law the standards for accessing non-VA care, providing veterans with clarity about the VA MISSION Act and their care options.
Help us #completethemission to give veterans access to needed care.
Veterans deserve access to quality health care in a timely manner.
As the global pandemic continues, the VA should be ensuring veterans can access all available care options. That’s why the VA MISSION Act was signed into law in 2018, to grant more veterans access to care from non-VA providers. But unfortunately, the VA has put up road blocks every step of the way.
The pandemic has resulted in some 20 million canceled appointments at the VA and millions of those lack any indication of follow-up from the VA to reschedule.
But the issue goes further than that.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many veterans have learned, even with the VA MISSION Act, they don’t have the power to make their own choices as to where they receive their health care. The VA consistently manipulates wait times and misguides veterans about their options to keep veterans in the backlogged, bureaucratic VA system.
Veterans should have the freedom to choose where they take their health care benefit based on what is best for their unique needs.
Wait times and appointment backlogs will only grow unless the VA implements the VA MISSION Act as it was intended, allowing veterans the option to receive care via community providers. In addition to ensuring adequate network capacity to meet the needs of the veteran population, Congress should also keep a close eye on VA and community care wait times to make sure wait times are being calculated correctly, appointments are being completed and veterans can get the care they need in a timely manner.
Congress should also build on the reforms in the VA MISSION Act by going a step further.
While the VA MISSION Act set eligibility criteria for veterans to access non-VA care based on wait times and distance from VA facilities, that criteria is being loosely followed by the VA, and is in jeopardy of being scaled back or eliminated. The GHAPS Act would codify into law the VA MISSION Act’s standards for accessing non-VA, empowering veterans with the certainty needed to take charge of their care.
Additionally, Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s new Veterans Health Care Freedom Act would create a pilot program which could pave the way to giving all veterans access to the care they need, whether in the VA or not.
This program, which would eventually be expanded nationwide, would empower veterans to make their own health care decisions based on their unique needs. Veterans could continue to use the VA as much as they want or go to doctors in their own communities and neighborhoods. The point is veterans – not the bureaucracy – are in charge of their own care.
These measures, in addition to more reforms at the VA – including a full audit of the VA resources and programs – put veterans at the center of their own health care and would begin to provide the freedom and choices veterans deserve in where and when they get the care they need.
But Washington needs to hear from you!
The Department of Veterans Affairs is limiting veterans’ access to medical care.
Wait times at the VA are increasing, and to ensure veterans can receive quality and timely care the VA should expand health care delivery options by increasing the use of telemedicine and community care.
The VA should be focused on removing barriers for veterans to receive health care, not creating barriers.
Tell your lawmaker to support the GHAPS Act to ensure veterans’ access to community care and veterans are empowered to own their health care options.