Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas introduced legislation Monday designed to modernize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ healthcare system.
The Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017 would require the agency to develop and implement a plan to create a high-performing integrated healthcare network and use objective healthcare demand data to create standards on access and quality.
These standards would also identify and bridge gaps in patient care -- whether veterans receive care at the VA or community facilities.
Further, the bill is aimed to improve collaboration with community providers and other federal agencies, by ensuring the agency promptly pays community providers and opens access to walk-in clinics. McCain and Moran also want to ensure the VA offers telemedicine and increases graduate medical education.
“The Veterans Choice Program was the first step in delivering on that promise, but much more needs to be done to provide all veterans a choice in when and where they receive care,” said McCain in a statement.
To McCain, the bill will strengthen the program by “consolidating and streamlining the VA’s community care program.”
“Since the creation of the Veterans Choice Program, Congress has repeatedly pushed the VA to make much-needed changes to its healthcare system,” said Moran in a statement. “Demand has demonstrated that veterans want and need healthcare options in their communities, but there must be reform at the VA to create a system that works for them.”
Under the legislation, the VA would also incorporate aspects of recent VA bills that would protect veterans from receiving care from providers who’ve been fired, suspended and or had their license revoked.
It would also clarify that the VA is allowed to share records with providers outside of the agency for the purpose of better care delivery.
The bill comes in the wake of the care scandals in Phoenix and in other VA care locations across the country, according to McCain. It has support from the American Legion, AMVETS and Concerned Veterans for America.