Dr. Bucshon Supports Bill to Grant Veterans Access to Private-Sector Healthcare

Jun 10, 2014 Issues: Veterans

Rep. Larry Bucshon, a physician from Southern Indiana, released the following statement after the House unanimously passed H.R. 4810, the Veteran Access to Care Act of 2014. H.R. 4810 will allow veterans to immediately access the doctors and health care providers closest to them through the private-sector. Bucshon signed on as an original cosponsor.

Dr. Bucshon stated:

“Recent internal investigation reports have confirmed that we are not meeting the obligation to our nations’ veterans and the problems we have seen are endemic.  At VA facilities across the country, veterans are experiencing secret waitlists, while senior officials are manipulating data. Following these reports, I personally called on VA Secretary Shinseki to immediately resign his post and joined my colleagues in the House to pass a number of VA accountability measures.  These are all important measures; however, I have repeatedly said we can’t stop there.

“My experience as a Milwaukee VA resident and my time as a heart surgeon helped shape my belief that our veterans would be best served with the option to access private-sector hospitals and doctors of their choice. The House passed a common sense bill today that grants veterans who are limited by geography or wait times at traditional VA facilities the ability to visit the doctor or hospital of their choice and be covered by their VA benefits.

“We owe it to our veterans to ensure that they receive the care they were promised and they deserve.  As a physician, I truly believe this is a great step forward and I hope our Senate colleagues act immediately on this measure.”

BACKGROUND:

For two years following enactment, H.R. 4810 would require the VA to:

  1. Provide a non-VA care authorization to any enrolled veteran who resides more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility, has waited longer than the wait-time goals for a medical appointment or has been notified by VA that an appointment is not available within the wait-time goals and who elects to receive care at a non-VA facility.

  2. Utilize existing contracts to the greatest extent possible.

  3. Ensure that the non-VA care authorization encompasses the complete episode of care but does not exceed sixty days. 

  4. Submit a quarterly report to Congress on the care provided under this authority.

In order to maintain accountability, H.R. 4810 would also require the VA to:

  1. Enter into a contract with an independent entity or entities to conduct an independent assessment of the health care provided in VA medical facilities.

  2. Report the findings and recommendations of the assessment to Congress.

  3. Submit a report on the assessment, including an action plan and timeline for full implementation of the assessment’s recommendations, to Congress.

H.R. 4810 would eliminate bonuses and performance awards for all VA employees for fiscal years 2014 through 2016. Finally, the bill would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to transmit to the relevant Committees an estimate of the authority’s budgetary effects, any transfer authority needed to utilize the savings and, if necessary, a request for any additional budgetary resources.