Healthcare professionals coalition raises concerns about the impact of new VA access standards on veterans.

Washington, D.C. | March 25, 2019 – The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute has joined eight VA professional associations along with the American Psychological Association to raise serious concerns about VA’s proposed rules governing the implementation of the VA MISSION Act’s Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP).

In a joint Public Comment submission posted to the Federal Register, these organizations, representing thousands of doctors, nurses and other professionals who care for America’s veterans, support the need for a community care network but assert VA’s proposed regulations will compromise the integrity of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) model of health care by:

  • Requiring VHA to meet new drive time and wait time standards while VCCP providers are not required to meet any access to care standard;

  • Proposing quality standards for VCCP providers that do not equal standards for VHA providers, especially for mental health care;

  • Incentivizing VCCP “over-treatment” often found with fee for service models;

  • Diverting VHA staff who perform clinical services to positions that administrate VCCP care; and

  • Failing to address that additional expenses for VCCP will likely be drawn from VHA’s budget.

The organizations observe that with more than half of covered veterans becoming eligible for VCCP vouchers, the rules will hasten the conversion of VHA into becoming an insurance company more than a provider of care.

The organizations state that veterans would be better served if standards were immediately amended to require that:

  • The drive/wait time standards (access standards) that apply to VHA also apply to VCCP care;

  • The same credentials, training, competence and quality that are established for VHA providers (quality standards) are required for VCCP providers before adding them to the network; and

  • The additional expense of VCCP care (costs) be appropriated separately and not drawn from VHA funding.

“Unfortunately, the good within these rules – identifying under-performing VA clinics and limiting what non-VA providers can do outside VA authority – are overshadowed by the harm caused sending veterans to the community with no assurance of better timeliness, convenience or quality of care,” said Brett Copeland, VHPI’s executive director. “It’s doubtful that these issues can be resolved by the time the VCCP is planned to be rolled out nationwide in June 2019.”

Download the a PDF of the full Public Comment from VeteransPolicy.org or click here to visit Regulations.gov. The full list of contributors to the Public Comment, and the organizations’ contact information, can be found below:

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The Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute, is a non-partisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. VHPI was founded by veterans and their caregivers, health care providers and professionals, and healthcare journalists. Learn more at veteranspolicy.org/about or on Twitter and Facebook.

Brett Copeland