One of the many complaints I hear is that our military veterans are having to wait months in order to see a doctor. Since 911, we have attempted to put our veterans into a special class and designated all of them as Hero’s because they served to protect the freedoms and interests of our country. These Post 911 veterans have access to more benefits than any of the veterans before them. For example, the Care Giver Program provides funds to family members who have to take care of these veterans.
The VA recently proposed new rules for Veteran community care that include six new eligibility criteria for Veterans under the VA MISSION Act, which was signed into law by President Trump in June 2018 . This allows a Veteran to seek care in the private sector under certain circumstances. There is one item that I would like address in this post.
Appointment wait time at a specific VA medical facility
- 20 days for primary care, mental health care, and non-institutional extended care services, unless the Veteran agrees to a later date in consultation with their VA health care provider
- 28 days for specialty care from the date of request, unless the Veteran agrees to a later date in consultation with their VA health care provider.
The VA MISSION Act is not going to be able to address the long wait times for the Veterans to receive Health Care in a timely manner simply because the same problem exists in the private sector. In fact, in some cases the wait times will be even longer.
The point that I want to make that the problem of getting an appointment and receiving health care is not just a problem within the VA system. It is a problem within the entire health care industry both inside and outside the VA. One of the biggest reasons for this is the Physician / Patient ratio. In other words, ask yourself how many patients does a Doctor have and how many can they possible see in one day? If one thinks they are going to be able to see a doctor faster if they go outside the VA, then they are only deceiving themselves and setting themselves up for an even bigger disappointment. While being able to go into the private sector is a good thing, it is not the magic bullet.
With the bad press that the VA has gotten, one would think that the care is substandard. This is simply not the case. The fact is that if a patient had a condition that they are not able to treat, they have had the ability to send them into the private sector. The care at the VA is equal to and sometimes better than one would receive in the private sector. Think about it. The VA probably has more experience in dealing with recovery from traumatic injuries then does the private sector. War has a tendency to advance medicine.
With the advancement of Medical Technology, those that are injured in battle have a better chance of survival than they have had in past conflicts. With this the VA has the challenge of providing care and support for these new Post 911 veterans which I would think could be more than any us could imagine. With that in mind, it should be understood that some Veterans are in need of more urgent care than others. These are going to take the highest priority. But still, the VA does the best it can to provide health care for all of it’s veterans even with it’s limited resources.
Wait times to be seen by a physician is a global issue. The choice program or Mission Act will not be able to address that. Being seen by a Physician in the private sector takes just as long if not longer, plus you have to find one that is taking New Patients. Good luck finding a specialist that is willing to take you on as a New patient in the private sector. Chances are, your still going to wait months to be seen. This is the reality that we all have to face. Thinking that we have to been seen within a month in unrealistic
“Hurry Up and Wait” is a concept that every Veteran can relate to.