Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald announced a series of organizational changes on last week and on Monday aimed at transforming the department into "an employee-led, Veteran-centric VA." In an open message to VA employees, McDonald said the planned overhaul was the product of discussions with numerous stakeholders, including veterans, employees and veterans service organizations, about how VA could improve its services and become more easily navigable for those who access it.
Of particular interest for VNAA members, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has released an interim final rule intended fix the long wait times that caused this year's VA scandal. The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, passed into law in August, directs VA to establish a program to furnish hospital care and medical services through non-VA health care providers to veterans who either cannot be seen within the wait-time goals of the Veterans Health Administration or who qualify based on their place of residence.
The interim final rule defines the parameters of the Veterans Choice Program, and clarifies aspects affecting veterans and the non-VA providers who will furnish hospital care and medical services through the Veterans Choice Program. To qualify, healthcare providers must already participate in the Medicare program and must able to offer timely, qualified care within a specific distance from the veteran's home and providers must enter into an agreement with VA to furnish care. Additionally, eligible non-VA entities and providers must maintain at least the same or similar credentials and licenses as VA providers, and must submit information verifying compliance with this requirement annually.
VNAA is tracking this issue closely and will provide further analysis.