WASHINGTON – Under the direction of Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Sloan D. Gibson, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has taken significant steps to improve Veterans’ access to quality health care. In keeping with the commitment to improve transparency in the department’s processes, VA today released the latest update of facility-level patient access data.
“VA is fully committed to fixing the problems we face in order to better serve Veterans,” said Gibson. “VA must restore the public’s trust, but more importantly restore the trust of our Veterans who depend on us for their health care.”
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has reached out to over 160,000 Veterans to get them off wait lists and into clinics. VHA has also made over 543,000 referrals for Veterans to receive care in the private sector – 91,000 more than in the comparable period a year ago. Additionally, VA has reduced the New Enrollee Appointment Report (NEAR) from its peak of 46,000 on June 1, 2014 to 2,000 (as of July 1, 2014). As of July 1, 2014, there has been a reduction in over 17,000 Veterans on the Electronic Waiting List since May 15, 2014.
Since June 2014, Acting VA Secretary Gibson has traveled to 11 VA medical centers across the country in an effort to hear directly from Veterans and employees about obstacles to providing timely, quality care and how VA can immediately address them.
“We have to rebuild trust by creating an open and transparent culture that is focused on better serving Veterans,” said Gibson. “That’s what these site visits are all about – listening to Veterans and employees around the country about how we can better serve Veterans and deliver the quality healthcare that they have earned.”
VA has added approximately 7,000 appointments provided to newly enrolled Veterans who had requested an initial appointment at the time of enrollment. VA is continuing to address systemic challenges in accessing care, as quickly as possible and will provide the most immediate information on its progress to Veterans and the public via the VA website, www.va.gov.
In a hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Wednesday, Gibson testified that VA needs approximately $17.6 billion in additional resources to meet current demand for the remainder of FY 2014 through FY 2017. This funding would address challenges such as clinical staff, space, information technology, and benefits processing necessary to provide timely, high-quality care and benefits.