Jan 08, 2016 / Defense/Veterans | Health Care | Oversight | Technology

Faster Care for Veterans Act


Legislation Calls on VA to Incorporate Commercially Available Self-Scheduling Technologies
at VA medical facilities

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) today introduced H.R. 4352, the Faster Care for Veterans Act, a bill that requires the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to commence a pilot program which incorporates commercially available self-scheduling technologies at VA medical facilities.

“Our veterans should have the same options that people have in doctors’ offices across the country,” McMorris Rodgers said.  “After hearing from a number of veterans in Eastern Washington, it’s clear that current systems at the VA are so archaic and cumbersome, the agency is unable to follow through on its responsibility to provide the care our veterans have earned.”

“We must try something different.  With this bill, we are demonstrating to the VA that innovative technology – already available to millions of patients – can work for them to get our veterans the care they’ve earned in a timely manner, cut back on red tape, and stay within budget.  I appreciate Rep. Moulton’s support on this important legislation, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the People’s House to see it through.”

The Faster Care for Veterans Act is a direct response to news that broke nearly two years ago exposing unacceptable wait times, poor treatment, and failed customer service at VA facilities across the country.  Instead of wait times coming down, in 2015 the number of veterans waiting 30 days or more for medical care increased by 50 percent.

Additionally, a 2008 internal audit by the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 18 percent of outpatient appointment slots went unfilled due to patient “no-shows” or because facility personnel did not refill the cancelled appointments.  While the VA has adopted a scheduling program that attempts to address this issue, the VA’s system is too expensive, will take too long to implement, and does not guarantee a self-scheduling component.

Upon enactment of the Faster Care for Veterans Act, the VA will be required to commence an 18-month pilot program that allows veterans to access an on-line self-scheduling technology – currently available in the private sector – to schedule and confirm medical appointments at VA medical facilities.