Veterans deserve the best health care possible. That means giving them more control. Veterans who need health care should be free to choose the provider that meets their unique needs, whether that’s a VA hospital or something else.
Some veterans have the freedom to choose their doctor under the current system. But the current system is convoluted, arbitrary, and in desperate need of an overhaul.
Thankfully, VA Secretary David Shulkin has been voicing his support for choice reform for months now.
Better Care for Vets
In June, Shulkin said giving veterans more control means better care.
The very best way that I know how to improve health care is to give the patient, in this case, the veteran, choice and to make those choices transparent.
Expanding choice is essential to providing quality health care for veterans, especially when they need services their local VA may not provide, Shulkin said.
One of the things that we know is that it’s so important to be able to allow our veterans to get care in VA, but also when VA is not able to provide those services, to be able to go out into the community and that means we need to continue to support our choice funding.
The Future of Health Care
Shulkin told Federal News Radio in an August interview that choice is the future of health care.
I think health care has changed to become more ambulatory and people are getting more care using technology at home.
We are trying to build a modern system, not replicating an old system. This is not business as usual in the VA, and we think that a modern healthcare system is going to need different approaches to be able to get us there.
With a rapidly-changing health care landscape, veterans shouldn’t be left behind in a one-size-fits-all system.
Problems with the Current Program
Like Concerned Veterans for America, Shulkin said rules that dictate which veterans are eligible to seek outside care need to be reworked. Currently, only veterans who are far enough away from a VA facility, or who can’t get an appointment in the next month, can seek care elsewhere.
We are going to eliminate the 40-mile, 30-day requirement that just doesn’t make sense for someone who wants to get health care.
Shulkin also said the current choice program’s design is too complex and can keep veterans from getting much-needed care.
We added a layer of additional administrative complexity, where instead of the VA being able to help the veterans as they always did, they had to go through a third-party administrator. That led to a delay in care in many cases, too many cases. We need to take that layer of complexity out.
Simplifying the bureaucracy around the choice program will ensure more veterans can get timely care.
The VA is already developing what a new veteran choice program should look like, Shulkin said.
We are working not only within our own ranks in VA, but we are working with outside organizations to help us supplement the ability to have veterans be able to make the choice between whether they get their care in the VA or outside the VA.
Shulkin is right—all veterans should have the freedom to choose the doctors and hospitals that work best for them. Congress should listen to the VA secretary and the countless veterans who have been calling for more options and pass legislation that empowers them.
Click here to email your lawmakers and tell them to support choice.
The post VA Secretary: The Future of Veterans’ Health Care is Choice Reform appeared first on Concerned Veterans for America.