Memorial Day and Veteran
26 May

Texas Veterans Still Not Getting the Health Care They Need

Category: Adult Primary Care, Behavioral Health Services, Family Medicine, Public Affairs, Public Health

By Kevin Nix, Sr. Director of Communications

As we honor the fallen this Memorial Day weekend, it’s also a time to recommit to providing proper health care to veterans. Many veterans are not receiving the care they need in a timely manner in the VA health system. Community health centers like Legacy are ready and willing to provide high-quality care to them and their families.

Following a well-intentioned law seeking to fix the wait-time nightmare at the Veterans Administration, problems persist. The backlog of veterans nationwide waiting more than 30 days for an appointment has grown to 550,000 from 300,000 since the Choice program began. In Houston, a VA Office of Inspector General report earlier this year substantiated claims that staff at VA Medical Center in Houston had manipulated wait times of its patients.

In a state with 1.6 million veterans, it is incumbent upon all of us in Texas to focus like a laser on getting veterans the care they need, even if it’s at non-VA facilities. Community health centers are a prime alternative or supplement to the VA for many types of care, including mental health concerns like post-traumatic stress, depression, and substance use.  We applaud the current efforts in Congress to fix the access-to-care problem and hope to be able to see veterans with ease as patients this year.

New bills introduced in Congress — the Veterans Choice Improvement Act of 2016 and the Care Veterans Deserve Act — seek to address ongoing issues that veterans continue to have with timely access to care.

A bipartisan congressional committee has recently made its views clear that community health centers, which provide “high-quality services,” should be included in any legislative package on veterans’ care. The committee also urges third-party contractors that administer the Choice program to improve their operations so more community health centers are able to serve more veterans.

 

Photo Credit: micadew https://www.flickr.com/photos/micadew/15767588572/in/photostream/