Sen. Stabenow announces legislation to improve health care for Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator from Michigan Debbie Stabenow introduced new legislation to address issues in the federal Veterans Choice program.

The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act was signed into law in 2014. This bill was designed to reduce wait times and provide medical services to veterans in their own communities.  This program is especially critical for veterans in rural areas who were previously required to travel long distances for services.

According to a statement sent out by Stabenow’s team, providers across the state have not been getting paid, rural hospitals have pulled out, and veterans are not getting the health care they need under this legislation.

“The Veterans Choice program was designed to make sure veterans can receive services close to home and in a timely way, but it has failed many of those it was intended to serve,”said Senator Stabenow in the statement.  “My new legislation will hold the Administration accountable and ensure that these serious issues are addressed quickly so that our veterans get the care they deserve.”

Senator Stabenow’s new legislation is called the Veterans Deserve Better Act, and it includes three parts. The first part reduces wait time for veterans by requiring that appointments be made within five days and making sure veterans seeking care have the information they need in advance of scheduling an appointment.

The second part deals with requiring the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to hold private contractors accountable for the care they schedule on behalf of veterans, and ensure reporting and follow-up of delayed appointments.

Third, the new legislation will require prompt payment to Veterans Choice Program providers by requiring the VA to pay for or deny payment within 30 days of receiving an electronic claim or 45 days of receiving a paper claim.  It will also require the VA to pay, deny, or request additional information on any outstanding unpaid claims within 45 days of enactment.

The statement also says that Veterans health care has been a longstanding priority for Senator Stabenow. She championed the effort to open new and expanded VA clinics across the state, including in Alpena, Bad Axe, Cadillac, Clare, Cheboygan County, Grayling, Oscoda, and Wyoming.