Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) August 29, 2016 – The Commission on Care has presented the White House with a report outlining a strategy for transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. The panel conducted a two-year review of its current condition and future outlook. The 300-page report includes 18 recommendations on how the department can improve the quality of health care as well as veterans’ access to it.
One key proposal involves creating a permanent nationwide system of public and private health networks that allow veterans to seek medical care from VA hospitals as well as department-approved private doctors. The recommendation is designed to help veterans who live far away from a VA facility. However, it is expected to be the most controversial.
“Over 30 percent of veterans’ health care is provided by private doctors and paid for by the VA. Veterans require quality, specialized care that meets their unique needs,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “Flexibility and choice in veterans’ health care is a positive step in the right direction as they deserve the option to select the best care available. However, the VA needs to ensure that private doctors are competent in dealing with veterans.”
The Commission on Care is an advisory group established in 2014 to overhaul the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). It was created following watchdog reports that revealed wait time scandals and systemic health care delays at VA facilities. The 15-member panel primarily comprises health care professionals and veterans advocates.
The commission also proposed closing underused VA facilities and those in poor condition. The report described the VA as still having “profound deficiencies” in delivering health care. The commissioners said, “America’s veterans deserve much better’ including a “better organized, high-performing health care system.” They concluded, “VHA must institute a far-reaching transformation of both its care delivery system and the management processes supporting it.”
The report has received mixed reactions from members of Congress and veterans’ organizations. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald claimed the commission’s recommendations coincide with some of the measures the VA has already begun using to enhance its health care services.
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