Congress Approves $17 Billion To Overhaul V.A.: Hire More Doctors, Open New Clinics

veteransBy Brad Broker

This Physicians News story can be republished for free. (See details)

On the eve of its summer recess, Congress passed the $17 billion bill to overhaul the V.A.  The bill is now awaiting signature by President Obama, who is expected to act quickly.

The problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs have been well documented recently.  V.A. clinics across the U.S. have been found to, among other things, create scheduling problems resulting in delayed care for veterans and may have even resulted in several deaths.  The V.A. is also dealing with accusations of a massive cover-up.

The Veterans Access Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 provides $10 billion to pay for veterans to get their healthcare through providers outside of the V.A. if timely care is unavailable.

“The American Medical Association (AMA) is pleased that Congress has taken action to ensure veterans can access the health care they need in a timely fashion outside of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Robert M. Wah, MD, president of the AMA. “Our nation’s physicians can and should be a part of the solution to ensure America’s veterans can access the care they need and deserve.”

The bill calls for several changes in the scheduling system.  Among them, the V.A. will “create a publicly accessible Internet website of each medical center of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the wait-times for the scheduling of an appointment in each Department facility by a veteran for the receipt of primary care, specialty care, and hospital care and medical services based on the general severity of the condition of the veteran,” according to the bill.

The legislation also provides $5 billion for the V.A. to hire more doctors and nurses as well as $1.5 billion to lease space and open 27 new V.A. facilities across the country.  These steps are being taken to further ensure veterans can receive care and sufficient providers are available at each clinic.

If you are a vet or a physician, nurse or other provider looking for an opening at the V.A., the new facilities will be located in: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Brick, New Jersey; Charleston, South Carolina; Cobb County, Georgia; Honolulu, Hawaii; Johnson County, Kansas; Lafayette, Louisiana; Lake Charles, Louisiana; New Port Richey, Florida; Ponce, Puerto Rico; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; Tyler, Texas; West Haven, Connecticut; Worcester, Massachusetts; Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Chico, California; Chula Vista, California; Hines, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Lincoln, Nebraska; Lubbock, Texas; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Phoenix, Arizona; Redding, California; Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“When veterans are denied care, it’s a priority deserving of bipartisan attention, and this legislation will help ensure the VA lives up to the promises that we made to our veterans,” said Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. “We owe them no less.”

(Photo by DVIDSHUB via Flickr)

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