Eligible veterans will be able to use non-VA medical care to combat long wait times under a bipartisan Senate deal to address the current crisis.
Veterans would also be able to use other hospitals or clinics not run by the VA if they live more than 40 miles from the nearest hospital or clinic. According to The Washington Post, veterans could also choose to have health care provided by Medicare, “visit federally-qualified health centers, Indian Health Centers or facilities run by the Defense Department.”
The VA has nearly 9 million veterans enrolled in its health care program, and veterans have been beset for years by wait times sometimes months longer than the VA’s 14-day maximum wait mandate.
The Senate bill would authorize the VA enter into lease agreements for 26 major medical facilities in 18 states. Also, the bill authorizes $500 million in new spending to hire new doctors and nurses with “expedited hiring authority.”
The Senate also takes on the House’s popular provision in its own bill that would allow the VA secretary to “immediately fire or demote senior officials tied to mismanaged or delayed medical care for veterans.” Workers would have seven days to appeal any adverse decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board, which hears appeals of federal workers.