The Associated Press recently reported on VA health care appointment times across the U.S. based on the public data VA began posting in June 2014. VA has provided this access-to-care information to Veterans and the public in a way private medical facilities do not, knowing that transparency and accountability would help improve care for Veterans.
While VA still has its challenges to overcome at a number of facilities and some Veterans still wait too long for appointments, the report also highlights the fact that in many parts of the country, VA provides health care that is “as fast, or even faster, than the Veterans could receive in the private sector.”
“VA is making progress to ensure Veterans receive the care they need, when they need it, and where they want to be seen,” said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. “While we still have too many Veterans waiting for care when they desire it, VA has expanded access to care for Veterans across the country, both in VA facilities and in their communities since May 2014. We are working hard to rebuild the trust of those Veterans, their families and the American people. And we are committed to getting it right and providing the timely care Veterans have earned and deserve.”
Nationally, VA completed more than 46 million appointments between May 1, 2014, and February 28, 2015. This represents an increase of 2 million more appointments than were completed during the same time period in 2013-2014. In February 2015, VA completed 97 percent of appointments within 30 days of the Veteran’s preferred date.
VA also uses private sector care when needed, completing approximately 1.5 million appointments per month through doctors and clinics in the community, which represents nearly 20 percent of total appointments. The Veterans Choice Program provides additional flexibility in getting Veterans into outside care.
VA has increased recruiting and hiring of health professionals, bringing on more than 28,000 new employees over the last 10 months.
While there is work to do across the country, the AP story points out that “[r]elatively few VA facilities in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Coast states reported having significant numbers of patients waiting extended periods for care.”
New York VA facilities have few delays, some patients wait – Newsday http://t.co/V5zJ8cWaft
— New York City NY (@NYNewYorkCity) April 9, 2015
As part of VA’s Accelerating Access Initiative, health care sites across VA have extended clinic hours and are working to increase space through leasing and short- and long-term construction planning for needed clinic space. All of these measures are resulting in better overall care to Veterans in most parts of the country.
Read more about VA appointment wait times and data reporting here.