VA Health Care Watch
In the wake of the access crisis that rocked the VA health care system in 2014, we've spent countless hours testifying before Congress on veterans health care benefits and working to assist veterans affected by delays in accessing VA care. All we've ever asked of VA is they provide timely, easily accessible and high quality care for veterans. In effort to continue holding VA and America's legislators accountable, we've compiled a series of reports evaluating the state of VA health care and the implementation of important reforms created by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.
The VFW continues to offer direct intervention on behalf of veterans who are experiencing problems accessing care. To report problems or concerns regarding VA health care or benefits, contact us by email or call 1-800-VFW-1899 (1-800-839-1899).
Hurry up and Wait
Our first issued report entitled “Hurry Up and Wait,” evaluated the state of the VA health care system and identified persistent challenges and potential solutions to ensure VA delivers quality and timely care to all veterans who have earned it. However our work didn't end there.
After reforms were implemented, we commissioned several surveys to gauge veterans’ experiences and evaluate the law’s most significant reform, the Veterans Choice Program. We analyzed input from more than 10,000 veterans regarding their satisfaction and access to the new program, through which veterans waiting more than 30 days for care or residing more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility are offered an opportunity to receive care from private sector health care providers in their communities. Read "Hurry Up and Wait" today.
Our two Veterans Choice Program reports included specific recommendations regarding participation, wait-time standard, geographic eligibility, and non-VA care issues that needed to be addressed. Fortunately, the program has also remained a top priority for VA and Congress, which have addressed several issues that accompanied the program's roll-out.
Concerns and advocacy of VFW members led VA to change the way it calculates geographic eligibility from “as the crow flies” distance to driving distance, aligning it with VA beneficiary travel. Read our initial findings on the Veterans Choice Program, and our most recent report on the Veterans Choice Program.
The VFW is committed to ensuring needed VA reforms are based on the needs, preferences and expectations of the men and women it was designed to serve – not political rhetoric. "Our Care," a 2015 report, evaluated the veterans’ health care landscape based on responses from a diverse cross-section of military veterans. It included conclusions on veterans’ options, preferences and expectations when seeking health care, which we believe should serve as the bases for changes to the VA health care system. Read the "Our Care" report.
To gauge whether changes VA and Congress have made to the VA health care system since 2014 are having a tangible impact on the views and experiences of veterans, VFW commissioned a 2017 follow-up survey to “Our Care.”
The 2018 follow-up survey indicates that veterans continue to face access, customer service and inconsistency issues when seeking VA health care, but are satisfied with the care they receive from VA, and the majority of them choose to stay with VA when offered the ability to use private sector doctors. Appointments can be completed more quickly by private providers, but veterans feel rushed and face challenges with referrals, out-of-pocket cost, and time with provider. See more results from "Our Care 2018".
In Their Words
With the increase of women wearing our nation’s uniform and their increased role in military operations, it has never been more important to ensure VA is ready and able to care for women veterans when they embark on the difficult transition from military service back to civilian life. To gauge how well VA is serving women veterans and to identify areas where it needs to improve, the VFW's women veterans’ advisory team commissioned the "In Their Words" survey. Analyzing survey responses and direct feedback from nearly 2,000 women veterans, the VFW identified nine recommendations to improve VA health care, outreach, training, homeless programs and other benefits. Read the results of our "In Their Words" survey.
Based on direct feedback from veterans, site visits to VA medical facilities around the country, and historical expertise the VFW along with its Independent Budget partners, DAV and PAV, developed a veterans health care reform framework centered on veteran perspectives and focused on the positives and negatives of the current VA health care delivery system.
Commission on Care
A congressionally mandated “Commission on Care” was charged with examining veterans’ access to VA health care and making recommendations for improvements. VFW testified numerous times to ensure its recommendations were aligned with veterans' real-world preferences and health care needs. On July 6, 2016, the commission released its final report which outlined 18 recommendations.
While the VFW supported most of the recommendations, we had serious concerns with suggestions to establish a politically-appointed board of directors to govern the VA health care system, and to give veterans a list of primary care doctors and ask them to shop around for one willing to see them as a patient.Read theVFW’s views on the commission's recommendations.