New bill lets veterans get medical help from non-agency providers

Though many people would agree that there are some downsides to serving in a branch of the United States’ armed forces, there are also upsides as well, such as receiving a high standard of medical treatment from a VA hospital in any state across the nation.

Though the Department of Veterans Affairs has come under scrutiny in the last few months and people have lost confidence in the agency’s ability to provide prompt care to service members, efforts made by the government as well as a new bill that was passed this month could renew public confidence in a system that provides necessary benefits to all it members.

Some of our California readers may remember hearing about the problems recently discovered at a veterans’ medical facility in Phoenix that prompted an investigation that uncovered falsified patient records regarding appointments and considerably long waits for medical help. But this isn’t the only VA hospital to have fallen under scrutiny. In fact, according to Richard Griffin who is currently acting as VA inspector general, investigators are currently looking at 69 agency medical facilities to determine how widespread this problem really is. It’s unclear from reports if any California facilities have demonstrated any wrongdoing at this time.

Considered to be a serious problem, lawmakers this month unanimously passed a bill that would make it easier for patients to get medical treatment and avoid long waits at VA hospitals. Instead of going to a VA hospital, patients may now receive medical care and other health services from non-agency providers if the patient lives more than 40 miles from a VA facility. The current bill is in effect for two years and could greatly reduce the backlog by finally providing veterans with the care they need and deserve.

For more than 57,000 patients, initial appoints came with a three month wait time. For elderly veterans, a wait time this long could mean that a serious illness goes unchecked or a condition worsens, potentially even creating more problems later on. It’s the hope though that the new bill will fix this problem before it affects anyone else.

Source: PBS Newshour, “House approves bill that allows veterans facing medical delays to seek outside care,” Alan Fram, June 10, 2014

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