Legislation Would Cut Down Bureaucratic Delays, Permanently Extend the Choice Act
Mar 08 2016
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) yesterday introduced the Veterans Choice Improvement Act of 2016 (S. 2646) along with U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.). This legislation makes the Veterans Choice Program, which was created under the Choice Act in 2014 to allow veterans to get needed health care outside of the VA system, a permanent program. It will also provide needed changes and reforms to address the bureaucratic delays, hassles and confusion that veterans have continued to experience in attempting to access health care.
“Thousands of veterans are still struggling to access the care they were promised through the Choice Act. Persistent red tape at the VA continues to hold the program back from doing greater good,” Sen. Moran said. “This legislation is an important step toward making certain veterans no longer struggle with unacceptable wait times at VA facilities or go without care because they live in rural communities. I am committed to our nation’s veterans, who should be treated like patriots, deserving of the best health care our country can offer.”
S. 2646 addresses three key problems that have come to light since the creation of the Veterans Choice Program in 2014:
- Systemic confusion with accessing health care outside the VA: The VA has the legal authority to send veterans outside of the VA to receive care, but there are multiple programs, contracts and laws that confuse everyone involved. The Veterans Choice Improvement Act simplifies the process by consolidating redundant and overlapping programs into the Veterans Choice Program and creating one funding source for all non-VA care programs. This will streamline and simplify the process for veterans who need to go outside of the VA to receive care.
- Medical providers fear working with the VA, which is jeopardizing the ability of veterans to get the care they need: VA has an antiquated, slow, and inefficient claims processing system that often makes it very difficult for private medical providers to work with the VA. The Veterans Choice Improvement Act requires that the VA will create a modern, secure and efficient claims submission process with industry best practices. It gives strict timelines for reimbursement to providers and includes measures to make sure that the VA meets those timelines.
- The VA does not use local medical providers to help veterans, which means veterans have to drive for hours to receive care, even for simple things like getting eyeglasses. The Veterans Choice Improvement Act allows the VA to enter into provider agreements with local providers, which will help thousands of veterans who live in areas with health care shortages to receive the care they need much more easily and conveniently.
S. 2646 is also sponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.).
The full text of the bill is available here.
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