Nearly three years ago when committee oversight and subsequent media reports uncovered that veterans around the country were facing unacceptable wait times for VA care, Congress passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (P.L. 113-146), which established the Choice Program. The Choice Program allowed veterans who meet certain qualifications to seek care from health care providers in the community. Since fiscal year 2014, community care appointments have increased by 61% overall, and in FY 2016 alone, 30% of all VA appointments were held in the community rather than in VA medical facilities.
Though VA has been collaborating with community providers to treat veterans since 1945, the recent increase in veteran demand for community care has highlighted serious issues and inefficiencies within the VA’s community care system. For example, VA currently uses six different methods to refer veteran patients to community providers. These six different methods often conflict with one another, creating confusion for veterans, community providers and VA employees alike. That’s why the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, led by Chairman Roe and Ranking Member Walz, have been working on bipartisan legislation to streamline VA’s community care programs while also working to improve VA’s internal capacity to care for veteran patients.
On October 24, 2017, the full committee held a legislative hearing on draft legislation to reform and improve VA’s community care programs.
On November 3, 2017, Chairman Roe and Ranking Member Walz introduced H.R. 4242, the VA Care in the Community Act. This legislation is cosponsored by every single member of the committee. On December 19, 2017, H.R. 4242 was passed out of committee.
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