Congressman Jason Smith: Our Veterans Deserve Better
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Jason Smith called on the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide more timely care to America’s veterans while announcing his support for the Veterans Access to Care Act. Smith’s comments come after the release of a VA audit that found more than 57,000 U.S. military veterans have been waiting 90 days or more for their first VA medical appointment. The audit also found an additional 64,000 veterans have completely fallen through the cracks and have never received an appointment after requesting one from the VA.
“The audit released this week proves that problems with the Veterans Administration are much bigger than patient backlogs. It is completely unacceptable that 57,000 veterans have been waiting 90 days or more for their first VA appointment. Worse yet, 64,000 veterans have fallen through the cracks completely and never received an appointment with a VA doctor. This is a national disgrace, our veterans deserve better,” said Smith. “This week I will co-sponsor The Veterans Access to Care Act that will give veterans who are forced to wait for VA care access to private care providers. This common sense legislation is long overdue.”
In addition to veterans being forced to wait for care, or not receiving care at all, the audit found some VA schedulers were told by their superiors to falsify appointment schedules to make patient wait times appear shorter. Smith is encouraging any veteran who is having trouble with the Veterans Administration to contact his staff.
“My staff and I want to help any veteran who is not receiving the help they need from the VA. Our veterans have willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedoms. I will do everything possible to ensure they get the care they have earned,” said Smith. “The Veterans Access to Care Act will give immediate help to veterans waiting to see a doctor. I plan to work with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to change the culture within the VA and ensure that our veterans and their needs are put first.”
Veterans Access to Care Act Background:
- The Veterans Access to Care Act would require the VA to offer non-VA care at the department’s expense to any enrolled veteran who cannot get an appointment within VA wait time goals – currently 14 days – or who lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility
- The Veterans Access to Care Act would give the VA secretary the power to fire poorly performing VA executives for performance
- The bill would ban bonuses for all VA employees from FY 2014 – 2016 and require VA to submit a quarterly report to Congress including usage info and an accounting as to what purchase methods were used to provide non-VA care.
- The bill would require an independent assessment of VA performance to include recommendations for improvement of VA’s current and projected health care capabilities and resources.