Caring for Our Veterans

Our heroes deserve the best care in the world. Although major strides have been taken to improve the VA’s quality of care, major reform is still needed. You can rest assured that I will actively work to find innovative solutions that improve the quality of care, reduce the VA’s backlog, and optimize the use of taxpayer resources.

Since the 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA revealed the awful truth of unacceptably long wait times, the federal government has been taking actions to correct the issues. Those efforts, for the most part, have failed. Even the installment of the Veterans Choice Program, which was created by Congress to increase veterans’ choice of health care and reduce backlogs, the system is plagued with long wait times and overcrowded hospitals. The Veterans Choice Program has failed to deliver quality care and real choice in the following ways:

– VA bureaucracy is still largely in control of veterans’ health care. Lack of competition leads to lack of quality care.

– Poor implementation leads to budget shortfalls.

– “40 day, 30 mile rule” requires veterans to receive care at a VA facility if they live within 40 miles of one and are able to receive care within 30 days.

According to a press release by Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), new polling shows that “98% of veterans and 95% of registered voters favor giving veterans more choice over their health care by allowing them to receive health care services from medical facilities or healthcare providers outside of the VA’s existing medical system.”

``The people know what needs to be done and now it’s time for the government to move forward with the solution. That is why I fully support the Veterans Empowerment Act, which is crucial to getting the VA on the right track.``

The Veterans Empowerment Act (introduced in November 2017) provides a much-needed long-term solution as opposed to the Veterans Choice Program, which is more of a temporary fix. The Veterans Empowerment Act would provide an immediate and sustainable solution for the VA health system in the following ways:

– Restructure the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) existing medical facilities into a federally chartered nonprofit corporation that can better adapt to the changing health care needs of our veterans.

– Create a veterans’ health insurance program that allows veterans the ability to access care in the private sector with their VA benefits.

– Increase oversight and transparency to prevent future cases of mismanagement.

– Modernize the department and free up the VA health system allowing for more focus on quality care.

By expanding health care options, this bill would empower veterans, especially those with extreme disabilities, to easily seek treatment elsewhere when their needs aren’t being met. This legislation will fix systemic issues currently facing the VA system and, more importantly, will provide more resources to assist our heroes in dealing with PTSD and suicide prevention.

I plan to introduce new and improved ways to transition our veterans into the workforce and create more job opportunities for them. The first step in doing so, however, is to ensure that they have the necessary access and resources to the quality physical and mental health care they need. Then, and only then, can our heroes return home and transition to successful, fulfilling lives after military service.