DearColleague.us

Letter

 

From: The Honorable Beto O’Rourke
Sent By:
shawn.schroeder@mail.house.gov

Date: 9/30/2016

Four ways you can help solve the problem

The Startling Facts:

  • The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has
    43,000 vacant positions
    (17.4% of all positions).
  • Based on 2015 VHA figures, roughly 20 Veterans take their own lives every day. Of those 20, only 6 of them are enrolled in the VA healthcare system.
  • In some underserved areas, Veterans are
    waiting several months
    to see a provider at all.
  • The 2016 independent Commission on Care report found that VHA providers made less than their private counterparts by up to
    $310,000, and on average, $74,631. The report also found that the VHA’s educational debt repayment program “lags behind other federal and state agencies.”

How do your VHA facilities rank? Find out
here
. If there’s room for improvement, join us.

 

Four Ways to Fix This:

1. Fill Provider Shortages

  • Co-sponsor the bipartisan Get Vets A Doc Now Act  (H.R.

    5501
    ), which would enable VHA to offer physicians a conditional position two years prior to graduation, creating parity with private-sector recruiting practices.
    Passed the House as an amendment to H.R. 5620. Cosponsors: Rep.
    Stefanik, Kaptur, Conyers, Young (AK), Kirkpatrick, Hastings,
    Jones,
    Titus
  • Co-sponsor the VA Provider Pay Modernization Act (H.R.

    6272
    ), which would help VHA recruit and hire providers in historically underserved areas by paying them more. Cosponsor:
    Rep. Abraham
  • Co-sponsor the VA Provider Education Debt Reduction Modernization Act (H.R.

    6273
    ), which would allow for VHA to provide increased education debt reduction funding for providers that accept positions in historically underserved areas. Cosponsor:
    Rep. Bost
  • Become an original co-sponsor for the VA National Interest Act, which would simplify and streamline the process under which VHA can hire providers under the J1 temporary worker’s visa program, creating
    parity with the practices of other federal agencies like DHS and DoJ.

2. Increase Continuity of Care

  • Co-sponsor the bipartisan Mental Healthcare Provider Retention Act (H.R.
    5648), which would allow Veterans to retain their DoD mental healthcare provider when they exit the military. Cosponsor:
    Rep. Jones
  • Co-sponsor the bipartisan Veteran Prescription Continuity Act (H.R.
    5337), which would ensure that transitioning servicemembers are never forced to abruptly change their prescriptions due to differences between DoD and VHA’s drug formulary listings.
    Cosponsors: Rep. Coffman, Titus, Rice, Kaptur, Bishop (UT), Jones,
    Peters
  • Become an original co-sponsor for the Mental HealthCare Access Expansion Act, which would allow combat Veterans with bad paper discharges to seek mental healthcare treatment through VHA, provided that
    they were diagnosed with a service-connected mental health condition at the time of the act that resulted in their discharge.

3. Increase and Enable Community Providers

  • Co-sponsor the bipartisan Vet Connect Act of 2016 (H.R.
    5162), which would provide VHA with the authority to share records with credentialed community providers, while maintaining
    Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protections.
    Passed the House
    . Cosponsor: Rep. Benishek
  • Become an original co-sponsor for the
    Choice Primary Care Access Expansion Act
    ,
    which would allow Veterans whose primary care provider has departed their VA medical center without immediate backfill to seek care with a community provider, thus improving the wait time situation.

4. Be Transparent with our Veterans

  • Co-sponsor the bipartisan Better Informing Veterans’ Healthcare Decisions Act (H.R.
    5726), which would require DoD to post key VHA access to healthcare stats (primary/mental healthcare appointment wait times, claims processing times, and claims appeals times) in all
    career counselor offices. Cosponsor: Rep. Knight, Jones
  • Become an original co-sponsor for the INFORM Act, which would require DoD to post key VA access to healthcare stats (primary/mental healthcare appointment wait times, claims processing times, and claims
    appeals times) in all military entry processing stations.

Be part of the solution by giving our Veterans the care that they have earned through their service to our nation. Contact Shawn Schroeder to co-sponsor any of these bills. He can be reached at (202)225-4831 or
shawn.schroeder@mail.house.gov.