Veterans Allowed to Visit Private Hospitals for Care
There have long been concerns towards Veterans Affairs on the issue of veterans in need of care awaiting an appointment while in desperate need of treatment. Currently Veterans Affairs is facing allegations in regards to treatment delays and falsified documents.
Claims have been made, particularly in regard to a VA clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, where a former clinic director speculates that as many as forty vets died awaiting treatment. An initial investigation on the Phoenix facility indicated that, of the seventeen deaths that were studied at the time, none of them appeared to be due to a delay in treatment. However, the investigation carries on, as a total of twenty-six Veterans Affairs facilities are under investigation for deaths related to delays in treatment, according to the department’s inspector general. In regards to the falsified documents, officials are investigating claims that some Veterans Affairs facilities falsified their appointment records to cover up delays in care.
With plenty of allegations being fired at Veterans Affairs facilities nationwide, lawmakers from both parties have been adamant on revising the health care system for returning veterans, particularly with the influx of returning soldiers from the wars on terrorism combined with aging veterans from Vietnam. According to an article recently completed by ABC News, advice from lawmakers has allowed the Obama administration to implement an initiative that will allow veterans to seek care from private hospitals. The administration is hopeful that this could resolve the general backlog evident at all Veterans Affairs locations nationwide.
The VA is also moving to help alleviate the issue from their end. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announced that facilities that are physically able to do so will be enhanced to improve capacity, in the hopes that this will expedite treatment processes and allow veterans to receive the care they need sooner. For those locations that are unable to expand, Shinseki stated that the Department of Veterans Affairs is working to increase the level of care acquired in the community via non-VA care.
In last year alone, Veterans Affairs spent just short of five billion dollars in medical care provided at non-VA hospitals and clinics, according to spokeswoman Victoria Dillon. This amount equates to ten percent of the health care costs for the Veterans Health Administration—the agency’s health care system. Dillon did say that is unclear precisely how much this new initiative will cost.