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The Ripon Advance

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) recently introduced the Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017 to reform U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and put veterans at the center of decisions on where and when they receive care in the wake of VA-care scandals that have come to light across the nation.

“Far too many Kansas veterans have experienced unnecessary difficulties accessing the care they’ve earned from the VA, and I appreciate that they have shared their stories and empowered us to work on their behalf,” Moran said.

“Demand has demonstrated that veterans want and need health care options in their communities, but there must be reform at the VA to create a system that works for them,” added Moran, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.

S. 2184 would better integrate VA services and existing VA community care programs like the Veterans Choice Program into an efficient and high-performing health care system. The measure would require that the VA use objective health care demand data for setting care quality and access standards and for identifying and connecting gaps in care, whether by the VA or community providers.

Moran’s bill would make sure that the VA promptly pays community providers, provides walk-in clinic access, offers telemedicine services, increases graduate medical education and residency positions for its employees, and improves collaboration with community providers and other federal agencies.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, teamed up with Moran in introducing the bill.

“In the wake of the scandal in care at VA hospitals in Phoenix and around the country, we vowed to guarantee our veterans timely access to quality treatment,” said Sen. McCain. “It’s time we transform the VA into a 21st century health care system, one that respects the dignity of our men and women in uniform and provides all veterans the quality health care they deserve.”

The American Legion, AMVETS, and Concerned Veterans for America all endorse Moran’s bill and spoke to the importance in offering quality care in both VA facilities and the community.

American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan said, “The bill, as currently written, would modify the already existing Choice program, providing veterans with the 21st Century medical system they rightfully deserve.”

AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly said, “Veterans need health care, both inside and outside of the VA system of care. This measure addresses funding, implements ongoing patient surveying in conjunction with community care teams, and devises re-evaluation of both VA and private sector care. Both need oversight.”

Concerned Veterans for America Executive Director Dan Caldwell noted that despite budget increases for the VA totaling tens of billions of dollars, some veterans still wait too long for crucial appointments and suffer as a result of poor care at the VA.

Moran added, “This joint effort to reform the VA will offer veterans an integrated health care system within their community that reduces red tape, enhances their quality of life and provides care that is worthy of their service and sacrifice.”

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