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Hudson Cosponsors VA Care in the Community Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2018
 
Hudson Cosponsors VA Care in the Community Act
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08), Fort Bragg’s Congressman and a voice for veterans, released the following statement after cosponsoring the VA Care in the Community Act (H.R. 4242), legislation to improve and expand veteran access to community care:
 
“As the representative of Fort Bragg and a voice for veterans, my top priority is improving the quality of health care our veterans receive,” said Rep. Hudson.“Like my Care Veterans Deserve Act, this important legislation aims to give veterans more choice and flexibility.”
 
Hudson continued, “Following years of mismanagement and unacceptable wait times for VA care, this bill will build on the progress we made through the Choice Program and is the latest step in our commitment to provide our heroes the health care they deserve.”
 
The bill would consolidate the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) existing community care programs into one cohesive program and modernize VA’s medical claims processing system to ensure that community providers can expect to be paid on time for the care they provide to veterans on VA’s behalf. It would further require VA to conduct periodic local capacity and market assessments to identify how gaps in care can be addressed through improvements to both internal and external capacity, standardize the rates VA pays to community providers and authorize VA to enter into provider agreements for needed care when contracts are not available or achievable.
 
H.R. 4242 seeks to build on progress made through the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act which established the Choice Program. Nearly three years ago when Congressional oversight and subsequent media reports uncovered that veterans around the country were facing unacceptable wait times for VA care, Congress established the Choice Program which allowed veterans who meet certain qualifications to seek care from health care providers in the community. Since fiscal year 2014, community care appointments have increased by 61 percent overall. In FY 2016 alone, 30 percent of all VA appointments were held in the community rather than in VA medical facilities.
 
Though VA has been collaborating with community providers to treat veterans since 1945, the recent increase in veteran demand for community care has highlighted serious issues and inefficiencies within the VA’s community care system. For example, VA currently uses six different methods to refer veteran patients to community providers. These six different methods often conflict with one another, creating confusion for veterans, community providers and VA employees alike. H.R. 4242 will consolidate these methods to ensure stability for veterans and health care providers.
 
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