WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC) released the following statement after House passage of the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act (the VA MISSION Act of 2018):

“Today, the House voted to provide better care for our Veterans by passing the Mission Act, a set of bipartisan reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). I’ve heard from many Veterans across my district about their unsatisfactory experiences with the VA. From issues with scheduling appointments and receiving inadequate care, to not being able to access medical centers, the VA has been in dire need of sweeping reforms- such as the legislation passed by the House today- so that the agency can fulfill their promise to care for America’s veterans.  By funding the Choice program, creating a non-partisan process for reviewing VA assets and expanding the post-care giver program beyond the 9/11 era, the Mission Act is a major step forward in ensuring veterans have timely access to the care they deserve.  I was proud to vote for legislation that will improve the lives of American heroes and their caregivers.” 

Background

Congressman Rice’s office partnered with the Institute for Public Service and Policy Research at the University of South Carolina to conduct a survey of veterans living the in the Seventh District of South Carolina about their experiences using both the VA-health system and non-VA facilities. Key findings of the survey included:

Obtaining Health Care:

  • 82 percent of veterans received care at a non-VA facility in the last two years.
  • More than 70% of respondents rated travel time to a health care facility as either extremely important or very important, and nearly 74% indicated it took less time to travel to a non-VA facility.

Scheduling Appointments:

  • More than 70% of respondents rated travel time to a health care facility as either extremely important or very important, and nearly 74% indicated it took less time to travel to a non-VA facility.
  • More than 70% of respondents rated travel time to a health care facility as either extremely important or very important, and nearly 74% indicated it took less time to travel to a non-VA facility.
  • While about 13% to 31% of veterans were able to be seen within a week of making an appointment, 26% to 46% faced wait times of longer than a month, depending on the facility. 
  • Over 65% indicated that it takes fewer days to be seen at non-VA facilities.

Quality of Care

  • A plurality of veterans rated the care they received at non-VA facilities as “somewhat better” or “much better” than VA care.
  • The quality of health care services and communication with providers ranked as the most important factors for veterans when it comes to health care. Veterans reported that non-VA facilities were better in both of these categories.

 

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