The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing titled “Shaping The Future: Consolidating And Improving VA Community Care,” where VA Secretary David Shulkin spoke about his vision for the future of VA Community Care, including the Veterans Choice Program.
“Our overarching concern is that Veterans have access to high quality care when they need it—regardless of whether in a VA facility or in their communities. Our goal for VA Community Care is to deliver a program that is easy to understand, simple to administer and meets Veterans’ needs,” Shulkin said.
Since the start of the program, more than 1.2 million Veterans have received community care. A million appointments in FY 2015 has now increased to 5.5 million in FY 2016. While highlighting these improvements, the secretary also laid out a plan to modernize and consolidate community care which included seven key elements.
- Maintain a high-performing, integrated network that includes VA, other federal partners, academic affiliates and community providers;
- Increase Choice for all Veterans, starting with those who have service-connected conditions;
- Ensure enrolled Veterans get the care they need closer to home when appropriate;
- Optimize coordination of VA health care benefits with the private health insurance that an enrolled Veteran may already have;
- Maintain affordability of health care options for the lowest income Veterans;
- Assist in coordination of care for Veterans served by multiple providers and;
- Apply industry standards for performance, quality, patient satisfaction, payment models and health outcomes.
“We know our number one priority is to provide Veterans access to the high quality care they have earned—in a VA facility or as close to their homes as possible, in the communities where they and their families live,” he said.