AMVETS Executive Director Responds to VA Secretary’s Release of New VA Access Standards

For Immediate Release

Contact: Miles Migliara

National Communications Manager

(301) 395-7486

media@amvets.org

AMVETS National Headquarters, January 30, 2019 — “AMVETS is highly encouraged by the release of new standards that outline how veterans will access healthcare in the near future. This is major step forward following the signing of the VA Mission Act by the President Trump last spring. We have been working with VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and providers in both the VA and community since the passage of the law to idealize what a high quality and veteran-centric model of care looks like. That model can only work if it has appropriate, well defined access standards that are focused on the best medical interests of veterans above all else.

The proposed access standards, while still under development, represent a great step in the right direction because they will remove procedural barriers, such as arbitrary travel distances and days waiting, and replace those with standards based on what veterans actually prefer — and in some instances, need. The particular emphasis on specialized care access improves upon VA Choice Care as veterans with special needs, such as mental health and polytrauma services, are now being considered under the new standards.

The reality is VA-funded care is being placed in the hands of the veteran, and that is the right thing to do. Many of those veterans will choose to go to a VA medical facility while others want more freedom of choice. We have seen something similar to this before — it is called Tricare. The Defense Department maintains its military treatment facilities, and retirees can either choose to go there or into the community. We do not expect the VA model to be an exact replication of the Tricare model, but if an approach works for military families and retirees, our veterans deserve similar approaches to care.

Questions on the new standards persist, and AMVETS will maintain a diligent pursuit of clarity and detail on how these standards will operate out of the abstract. But these questions should not stand in the way of progress. Our veterans need access to care right now, not when the VA and others have devised the perfect plan, which may never realistically happen. What we have been presented today will help get us closer to a model of care that saves lives, improves quality of life, and adequately reflects our commitment to rewarding those who defended our country.

We commend VA Secretary Wilkie for this first major step forward in realizing the intent of the VA Mission Act, and we look forward to his continued partnership with AMVETS and the veteran community as a whole.”

 

– Joe Chenelly, AMVETS National Executive Director

 

AMVETS is the nation’s largest and oldest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization that is open to and fights for all veterans who served honorably, including reservists & guardsmen. AMVETS has been a nonpartisan advocate for veterans and their families for more than 70 years. amvets.org

 

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January 30th, 2019
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