It appears that the Veterans Administration will allow Veterans to seek care from private providers!
We need to look into how this will be done, to be prepared.
- How does a provider contract for this?
- Possible volume and where?
Under pressure to improve care, the Department of Veterans Affairs will allow more veterans to use private medical services to meet growing demands for healthcare, the department announced Saturday. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in a brief statement that as part of an expansion of services, veterans will be able to seek care at private clinics and hospitals in areas where the department’s capacity to expand is limited. In such situations, the VA “is increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care,” Shinseki said.
The agency will provide more specifics on these options in the next few days, said Victoria Dillon, a department spokeswoman. It is unclear how much this service expansion will cost. The VA already spends about 10% of its budget on private care, which cost $4.8 billion last year. The new directive comes as Shinseki faces calls for his resignation amid allegations that VA employees have been covering up long wait times for medical care and falsified appointment records to hide the delays. A number of Republicans, at least two Democratic lawmakers and the commander of the American Legion have called for Shinseki to step down.
Twenty-six VA facilities — including sites in Phoenix, San Antonio and Fort Collins, Colo. — are under federal investigation. Shinseki is expected to present President Obama a preliminary report on the facilities in the coming week. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said he was pleased by the policy change to allow private care, but thought it should have come earlier.
“It appears the department is finally taking concrete steps to address the problem,” he said in a statement. He called the move “a welcome change from the department’s previous approach, which was to wait months for the results of yet another investigation into aa problem we already know exists.” Miller supports legislation that would let veterans turn to private care when the VA can’t meet their needs within 30 days.
The idea of increased private care has been embraced by some Republicans and Democrats as a possible response to the growing issue of shortcomings in the department’s care. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has embraced the idea, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she is open to it. Amid the allegations of treatment delays, the administration is scrambling to show a new responsiveness to criticism of how it handles the growing number of injured and ill veterans.
Source: www.latimes.como; Paul Richter; Richard Simon; May 24, 2014.