VA Health Care Delivery
June 12, 2014
STATE OF FLORIDA SERVICE OFFICER
VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES
FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION
WITH RESPECT TO
VA Health Care Delivery
June 12, 2014
Representatives Buchanan and Hastings, and Members
of the Delegation, on behalf of the men and women of the Veterans of Foreign
Wars of the United States (VFW) , I would like to thank you for inviting me to
speak today on the state of VA health care in Florida. The VFW considers the recent findings by the
Inspector General and internal VA audits of systemic appointment wait time data
manipulation leading to the denial of care for veterans to be a national
crisis, and we appreciate your interest in holding this meeting.
The VFW believes that secret appointment wait lists not
only indicate poor management, but the larger issue of access. If VA truly had the capacity to meet the
demand for care, there would be no cause to hide long wait times in the first
Last month, the VFW launched our national help line and
began holding town hall meetings to assist our members and hear their
experiences with VA health care. The
recurring story that we hear is that VA care is good, if you can get it. Due to lack of capacity and available
doctors, many veterans are waiting far too long for the care they need and
deserve. Through our help line, one
Florida veteran who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer told us that he had
to wait five months to see his primary care doctor.
The VFW believes that the long term solution to
solving the VA capacity issue is clear.
VA must expand its facilities and hire a sufficient number of physicians
to meet the demand for care. We realize,
however, that this will not happen overnight.
In the short term, VA must use all available tools to get veterans the
care they need, to include contracting with community providers when necessary.
My views regarding the state of VA health care in
Florida are based on speaking daily with veterans. It usually begins as a
discussion about the status of a disability claim or the process in getting a
disability service connected, but then transitions into their experiences with
VA health care.
Florida veterans, like veterans across the nation,
are satisfied with the health care they receive from VA. Yes, there are problem
areas that need to be addressed and improved upon; there is no denying that
The more I speak to veterans the more I understand
how important the doctor-patient interaction is in determining whether their VA
experience is positive or negative. If the doctor listens to the veteran and is
truly concerned about the veteran’s health the veteran feels, he is getting the
best treatment available.
On the other hand, the reasons I hear for dissatisfaction
with VA care is almost always about the doctor. How the doctor was rushed, did
not listen, and seemed disinterested. It
is reasonable to believe that this is happening because doctors are rushing
through their appointments in an attempt to compensate for the lack of capacity
at their facilities. One important
measure of quality of care is patient satisfaction, and a doctor who is too
rushed or overworked to spend time understanding his patient’s needs cannot
possibly provide the highest quality care.
As VA hires more doctors to address its lack of
capacity, it is important that they maintain the highest standards of
qualifications for employment. VA must
not compromise quality in an attempt to appear fully staffed. VA must provide the highest quality care in
addressing access issues. The veterans
of this nation deserve no less.
This concludes my statement. I thank the delegation for allowing me to
speak today, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
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