Proposed VA bill responds to veteran care scandals: 4 takeaways

Senators introduced a bill Dec. 4 that would increase care access for veterans in response to controversies over excessive wait times at Veterans Affairs hospitals.

The bill aims to increase veterans' access to care by improving VA services and existing VA community care programs.

Here are four takeaways from the proposed bill.

1. Reforms would increase community healthcare options for veterans by building upon the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to receive care at non-VA facilities rather than waiting for VA appointments or traveling to VA hospitals.

2. The bill would set reporting standards that ensure cost-efficient care to veterans, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement.

3. Under the bill, the VA would be required to use objective data on healthcare demand to set standards for access and quality and work to close gaps in veterans' care in both VA and community facilities.

4. The bill would make sure the VA promptly pays community providers, opens access to walk-in clinics, offers telemedicine, increases graduate medical education and residency positions, and improves its collaboration with community providers.

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