May 29, 2017

New Crapo Bill Streamlines Veterans Health Care

Advances treatment ‘in the veterans’ best interest’

Lewiston – Veterans will see improved options for health care and reductions in red tape under legislation introduced by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo.  The Veterans Health Administration Reform Act of 2017, or S. 1279, was written using responses from Crapo’s two statewide veterans’ surveys and information from Congressionally-mandated reports suggesting how veterans’ health care could be improved.  The bill builds on legislation Crapo introduced last year to establish the “Care in the Community” program, which is the program Crapo would like to see replace the Veterans Choice Program (VCP). 

Delays for appointments and treatments through Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities led to the creation of the VCP.  The VCP was intended to enable the expansion of treatment options with private sector doctors, but veterans still face significant bureaucratic hurdles Crapo seeks to ease with the legislation.  Crapo noted the bill does not seek to cut funding to existing VA treatment programs—rather expedite treatment in the private sector when it is in the veteran’s best interest.

 “I told our veterans I would continue to press for sensible reforms at the VA.  This measure addresses some of the underlying problems that made the VCP so difficult for veterans and the VA.  The bill is focused on the veteran and on providing veterans easy access to care whenever it is in the veteran’s best interest,” Crapo said.  “Our veterans have put their lives on the line for our freedom.  We owe it to them to easily obtain the best and most expedient care possible.” 

The bill:

  • Streamlines non-VA care programs into one “Care in the Community Program” that allows the VA to easily refer veterans into the community for care when it is in the veterans’ best interest.
  • Ensures that the VA will pay providers in a timely fashion for the care and services provided under this program.
  • Ensures the VA will educate veterans and VA staff about health care options available through the VA and how these options interact with veterans’ health care insurance (if applicable).
  • Ensures that the VA coordinates with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure that a veteran has the flexibility to use VA benefits in coordination with Medicare or Medicaid benefits (if that is the preference of the veteran).  
  • Includes several other provision focusing on modernizing the VHA’s operations and encourages continued reforms.

Crapo will discuss the Veterans Health Administration Act Tuesday during a stop in Lewiston.  His Tuesday schedule is as follows: 

Tuesday, May 30:

Lewiston     9:30 AM      Discusses new legislation to streamline VA and private health care for veterans.  At the Lewiston VFW Sourdough Post 10043, 1104 Warner Avenue

Orofino       12:45 PM     Meets with membership of the Clearwater Basin Collaborative to discuss county payments and the collaborative process, Forest Service Offices, 12730 U.S. Highway 12

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