Via Washington Post: Wait time is up for VA fix

Apr 27, 2016

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) calls for “a common sense, 21st century veterans’ health care system” in an Op-Ed published on The Washington Post‘s “Power Post” on April 26.

“Veterans died while on VA waiting lists, and it is unconscionable that there has been little effort on the part of the agency to reform its own culture, rectify this situation, or hold those responsible accountable,” McMorris Rodgers writes. “Unbelievably, as we approach two years since the scandal broke out at the VA with secret wait lists, patients dying waiting for appointments, and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, we’re finding that our veterans still aren’t even coming close to that vision for 21st century care.”

Veterans continue to tell McMorris Rodgers that one of the biggest challenges they face at the VA is simply getting an appointment.

On January 8, McMorris Rodgers and Democrat Seth Moulton (MA-06) introduced the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016 (H.R. 4352), which will empower veterans and give VA employees more tools to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Click here to read the full Op-Ed, and find additional excerpts below:

ON SELF-SCHEDULING APPOINTMENTS |  An audit released last week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the VA still hasn’t fixed the wait times that plagued the system two years ago; schedulers at half the reviewed centers had falsified wait times, and scheduling was done improperly a quarter of the time. An earlier report revealed that as of January, more than 30,000 veterans were waiting longer than one month for health care than they were the year before. I believe we should open up the scheduling process to the same technologies being used in doctors’ offices by private citizens across the country, which is why I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation that incorporates self-scheduling so veterans can schedule and confirm medical appointments online and immediately. .. Self-scheduling is only one example of the endless possibilities for a 21st century VA — one that treats our veterans with dignity and respect, and ensures our heroes’ sacrifices don’t continue after their tours end.”

ON GETTING VETERANS THE CARE THEY EARNED | “If we don’t clean house at the VA and overhaul its culture, we’re just biding time until another—potentially worse—scandal surfacesOver the coming months, we will focus on legislation that demonstrates to the VA how innovative ideas already being used in the private sector can also work for them to cut back on red tape, stay within budget, and, most importantly, get our veterans the care they earned and need.The time has run out for the VA to address its issues on its own.  … If this administration cannot follow through on the fundamental duty and solemn obligation to serve our veterans with the VA as-is, then it’s time to try something different.No more waiting. No more sitting by the phone hoping that someone follows up.”

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