TOPEKA — U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran has introduced a bill aimed at making key reforms to the way veterans receive health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, his office announced Monday.
Moran, R-Kan., introduced the bill with fellow Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
According to a news release, the bill is aimed at increasing choice in veterans’ health care, setting quality standards and improving access to care. It also would authorize pilot programs aimed at increased collaboration with community providers.
“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 in the release. “Demand has demonstrated that veterans want and need healthcare options in their communities, but there must be reform at the VA to create a system that works for them.”
Moran and McCain’s bill would expand veterans’ ability to receive care from community providers. Veterans would be eligible to receive care from community providers when a VA facility doesn’t offer the care needed or can’t provide an appointment for a patient, or if the patient and a provider agree that non-VA care would be in the patient’s medical interest.
McCain said the existing Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to see a community provider if they can’t get a VA appointment, was a positive step following a 2014 scandal in his state. Veterans attempting to get care from the Phoenix VA have been subjected to long waits.
“But much more needs to be done to provide all veterans a choice in when and where they receive care,” McCain said. “Our bill would strengthen and improve the core elements of Choice by consolidating and streamlining the VA’s community care program.”
In Kansas, VA hospitals have struggled with staffing, affecting their ability to provide emergency and psychiatric services.
“This joint effort to reform the VA will offer veterans an integrated healthcare system within their community that reduces red tape, enhances their quality of life and provides care that is worthy of their service and sacrifice,” Moran said.