VA Health Care Watch

Hurry Up And Wait

In the wake of the access crisis that rocked the VA health care system in 2014, the VFW has worked to assist veterans affected by delays in accessing VA care and compiled a series of reports evaluating the state of VA health care and the implementation of important reforms created by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.  

The VFW first issued a report entitled “Hurry Up and Wait,”  to evaluate the state of the VA health care system and identify persistent challenges and potential solutions to ensure VA can deliver quality and timely care to all veterans who have earned it.  However the VFW’s work did not end there.  After reforms were implemented, the VFW commissioned several surveys to gauge veterans’ experiences and evaluate the law’s most significant reform, the Veterans Choice Program. The VFW has analyzed input from more than 10,000 veterans regarding their satisfaction and access to the new program, through which veterans waiting more than 30 days for care or residing more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility are offered an opportunity to receive care from private sector health care providers in their communities. To read "Hurry Up and Wait," click here.    

The VFW’s two Veterans Choice Program reports included specific recommendations regarding participation, wait-time standard, geographic eligibility, and non-VA care issues that needed to be addressed. Fortunately, the program has also remained a top priority for VA and Congress, which have addressed several issues that accompanied the program's roll-out. For example, the concerns and advocacy of VFW members led VA to change the way it calculates geographic eligibility from “as the crow flies” distance to driving distance, aligning it with VA beneficiary travel. To read the VFW's initial report on the Veterans Choice Program, click here.  To read the VFW's second report on the Veterans Choice Program, click here.

As Congress debates the future of the VA health care system, the VFW is committed to ensuring the public discourse regarding needed reforms is based on the needs, preferences and expectations of the men and women it was designed to serve – not political rhetoric. To that end, the VFW has published a report entitled “Our Care,” to evaluate the veterans’ health care landscape based on responses from a diverse cross-section of military veterans. The report includes conclusions on veterans’ options, preferences and expectations when seeking health care, which the VFW believes should serve as the bases for changes to the VA health care system. To read "Our Care," click here.

Based on direct feedback from veterans, site visits to VA medical facilities around the country, and historical expertise the VFW along with its Independent Budget partners, DAV and PAV, developed a veterans health care reform framework centered on veteran perspectives and focused on the positives and negatives of the current VA health care delivery system. To read "Independent Budget: A Framework for Veterans Health Care Reform," click here.

On March 31, 2016, the VFW along with seven of the major veterans organizations, sent the Commission on Care a letter informing them that veterans want the VA health care system to be improved not eroded or abolished and notifying them that the VFW would denounce their report if it recommends privatizing the VA health care system. The Commission on Care was charged by Congress to “examine veterans’ access to Department of Veterans Affairs health care and to examine strategically how best to organize the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), locate health resources, and deliver health care to veterans during the next 20 years.”  To read the Joint VSO Letter to the Commission on Care, click here.

The VFW continues to offer direct intervention on behalf of veterans who are experiencing problems accessing care. To report problems or concerns regarding VA health care or benefits, click here or call 1-800-VFW-1899 (1-800-839-1899).

Things You Need To Know

If you have received a choice card or if you believe you are eligible, you must first contact VA to coordinate your health care. Here are some things you will need to know before seeking non-VA care:

VA Hotline

A Framework for Veterans Health Care Button