Amid backlogs, vets can seek private primary care docs

Source: Patricia Kime, Military Times, August 14, 2014

Veterans waiting for a primary care appointment at a VA medical facility may now be able to get one at a private physician under a program that allows veterans to seek medical treatment outside the Veterans Affairs Department. VA officials announced Wednesday that primary care has been added to its Patient-Centered Community Care, or PC3, program. The initiative originally was designed to provide specialty care, in-patient and mental health treatment to veterans who could not access a VA hospital or clinic because of distance or prolonged wait times at their regular facility. But it was expanded to include primary care in an effort to expedite treatment to patients sitting on wait lists, according to a VA release.
Adding a Private Option to VA Health Care Is Going to Cost a Bundle. We Should Study Whether It Works.
Source: Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, June 13, 2014

As part of the deal to fund new VA facilities in underserved areas, Democrats agreed to a Republican proposal that would allow veterans to seek private health care if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or if they have been waiting more than 30 days for an appointment. Here’s what the CBO has to say about that: “All told, CBO expects that veretans would ultimately seek additional care that would cost the federal government about $50 billiob a year, on net.”….

Should We Be Concerned About Privatization of the V.A.?
Source: Paul Waldman, American Prospect, June 11, 2014

Congress is about to pass a bill allowing vets to receive care at private providers. If it’s the first step toward privatization, that could be a big problem….But there is a down side to this private option. As Philip Longman argues, outsourcing V.A. medical care compromises the very thing that makes it so good: coordination. The V.A. was a pioneer in the development of electronic medical records, and its record of quality care comes in large part from the fact that it’s a unified system. ….

Bernie Sanders, John McCain strike VA deal
Source: Jeremy Herb, Politico, June 5, 2014

Sens. Bernie Sanders and John McCain have struck a deal on legislation to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand veterans’ access to health care and make it easier to fire VA officials for misconduct. The compromise measure, announced Thursday on the Senate floor, includes pieces of three VA bills that have been introduced in the Senate. The legislation would allow veterans to see private doctors outside the VA system if they experience long wait times or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. And it incorporates provisions from legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) making it easier to fire VA officials.

Senator unveils proposal to revamp VA health care
Source: Susan Davis, USA TODAY, June 1, 2014

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders unveiled a broad proposal Sunday to revamp health care for 6.5 million veterans as the department faces an expanding investigation into the way care is provided at VA medical facilities. …. Sanders’ bill would make it easier for veterans to receive treatment outside the VA system if timely care is not available. A preliminary investigation revealed last week that VA facilities have altered medical records to hide delays of nearly four months for patients to see a doctor. The proposal would allow veterans to seek treatment at community health centers, military hospitals or from private doctors.

Pelosi open to privatizing more vets’ care
Source: Mike Lillis, The Hill, May 29, 2014

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she’d support a shift to privatizing more healthcare services for the nation’s veterans. “I don’t have any problem with that,” she told reporters in the Capitol. Amid the simmering scandal over protracted wait times at facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) is vowing to introduce legislation granting veterans more flexibility to seek care in the private sector. Some liberals fear the move is part of a broader GOP plan to privatize veterans care altogether. But Pelosi said the sheer number of veterans entering the VA system, combined with geographic and logistical hurdles facing many of those patients, makes Miller’s idea an attractive one — as long as government-run facilities also remain available to cater to vet-specific needs.

Harris seeks privatization of some veterans’ health care
Source: Nicole Gaudiano, DelMarVaNow, May 29, 2014

Veterans would be able to opt out of the Veterans Health Administration system and get care through a private insurer, under a plan being pushed by Rep. Andy Harris. The Maryland Republican says veterans should have the option to get a health care plan as good as the plans for those providing their care. The “Veterans’ Choice Plan” would be comparable to what federal employees are provided through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, he says….

Andy Harris pushes VA privatization plan
Source: Kendall Breitman, Politico, May 27, 2014

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) is hoping to resolve the “bureaucratic mess” that is the Veterans Affairs office by pushing a plan that would allow privatization of some vets’ health care. …

Veterans Fire Back at Letter by Senator
Source: Jonathan Weisman, New York Times, May 26, 2014

An “open letter” from a senior Republican senator to the nation’s veterans in which he castigates the leadership of veterans’ organizations prompted a brutal war of words over the Memorial Day weekend, including a promise from the Veterans of Foreign Wars that its “hat in hand” approach to Congress will turn more combative. …. The issue carries risk for Republicans because they could be left with a politically difficult effort to privatize at least some veterans’ health care or to pump more money into a system covering about 2.8 million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an option veterans groups have demanded but Republican leaders have resisted. …. Over the weekend, the Obama administration said it would allow more veterans to get access to care through private health facilities to ease the backlog at the department’s 152 medical centers and 900 community care facilities.

The Republican Party Has a VA Problem, Too: Privatization Isn’t Popular
Source: Brian Beutler, New Republic, May 22, 2014

In light of the GOP’s decision to fold the Veterans Affairs scandal into a broader ideological crusade, I noted on Wednesday that in seeking redress, liberals shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the GOP’s answer to every administrative blunder is to dissolve whatever program or agency screwed up. The unspoken corollary is that, by using the VA scandal as a narrative building tool, they’ll face pressure to put up a “small government” alternative to the VA that would be a better deal for actual veterans. And that carries risk, because the Republican alternative is unpopular….