Latest VA actions show strides toward progress

Published 08/27 2014 04:56PM

Updated 08/27 2014 04:59PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Recent actions taken to instill accountability and improve access to care are promising signs that the Department of Veterans Affairs is serious about addressing the immediate needs of veterans, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) said Tuesday.

Among the recent actions taken are:

- The removal of the director and chief of staff from authority at the troubled Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS), which Rep. Roby and Senator Richard Shelby applauded;
- A commitment to overhauling the patient scheduling process by taking proposals from outside, professional vendors;
- The addition of primary care to services covered by Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3), a program championed by Rep. Roby that connects veterans with local non-VA providers for timely services.

Such actions are promising, though following through with results will ultimately determine success, Rep. Roby said.

“The VA has demonstrated more action toward instilling accountability and improving care in the last two weeks than in the last two years,” Rep. Roby said. “I’m hopeful these latest actions show that the old ways of doing business won’t cut it anymore at the VA.

“I appreciate Secretary McDonald listening to the concerns we’ve raised over the last several weeks and acting to shakeup the management at the Central Alabama VA. There has clearly been a leadership problem in Central Alabama, and this was an important first step toward changing the culture of complacency that has left so many veterans behind.

“Make no mistake, change will take time. Fixing decade’s worth of problems at the VA will not happen overnight. We must remain vigilant in seeing these promising reforms through.

“These latest actions shows strides toward progress, but we will keep a watchful eye to make sure the promises are met with results for our veterans.”

Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) was initiated by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2013 as a way to allow veterans to access health care services not offered by their local VA medical centers or those that come with especially long wait times. PC3 connects veterans with local, non-VA health care providers for services such as primary care, mental health care, emergency care, physical therapy and even newborn care for veteran mothers.

Even before the VA scandal broke, Rep. Roby was urging the Department to utilize PC3 to improve veterans’ access to care, especially in places like Central Alabama where demand exceeds the local facility's resources or personnel. In the recently-enacted VA reform legislation, Congress required the VA to offer PC3 or similar non-VA care to any veteran who cannot schedule an appointment within 30 days or who lives more than 40 miles from the nearest VA clinic.

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