Chances are you probably know a veteran. Many of us have ties to a veteran, whether it is family members or friends. Memorial Day helps us to remember our veterans and highlight how we can help. In healthcare we hear about the lack of health services dedicated to our veterans. Northwest Health Services has a VA Choice Program that assists veterans with access to our services when a VA provider cannot. The program has had it’s limitation until a recent change from our government.
Healthcare for our veterans saw a victory when the Senate passed the VA MISSION ACT, which overhauls the agency’s community health and Veterans Choice Programs and improves patient access to care. In a 92 to 5 vote, the Senate avoided a disastrous shutdown of its Choice private-sector program.
This is great news for veteran healthcare and Northwest Health Services. The measure would allow veterans to see private doctors (like Northwest Health providers) when they don’t receive treatment they expected, with the approval of a Department of Veterans Affairs health provider. Veterans could access private care if their wait times are too long or if the VA medical centers closest to them don’t offer the services they need.
A large amount of the bill’s funding will go towards improving the VA Choice Program, which was slated to run out of funding as early as next week. Currently, the VA Choice Program has wait requirements that don’t allow veterans access to a third-party provider in a timely manner.
The bill will improve veteran access to care, a major victory for our veterans who will now benefit from more choice and fewer barrier to their care. It aims to steer more patients to the private sector to relieve pressure at VA hospitals. The return from loosening pressure is expected to improve veteran care at VA facilities and with private providers alike.
Many veterans’ groups supported the bill, such as the American Legion, Concerned Veterans for America and more. The top priority on the table of the VA secretary is ensuring a proper implementation of the updated bill.
Northwest Health Services is a Veterans Choice Provider. For more information feel free to reach out to Northwest Health at communication@nwhealth-services. Northwest Health will continue to review updates from leaders at the VA to see how we can best assist our veterans with access to care.
Cameron Corbet is the Marketing and Communications Manager for Northwest Health Services and works with healthcare professionals to provide education on important health issues.