Reforming the VA
Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act
RESTRUCTURE AND STREAMLINE THE VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
In order to best serve veterans, the Veteran’s Health Administration’s (VHA) health insurance function should be separate from its function as a provider of hospital and clinical care. The Veterans Accountable Care Organization (VACO), a non-profit government corporation that is fully separate from the VHA, will manage the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) brick and mortar health care facilities and delivery of care to our nation’s veterans. The Veterans Health Insurance Program (VHIP) will administer veterans’ health insurance programs within the VHA. An independent entity will have more latitude to reward high performers, fire poor performers, and monitor the quality of overall veteran health care delivery.
OFFER VETERANS THE SAME CHOICE AS THEIR FELLOW AMERICANS
Today, our veterans are trapped in a system that offers them little to no choice. They deserve the right to choose what health care plan best fits their individual needs. The Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act will offer current and newly enrolled veterans choices: VetsCare Federal, VetsCare Choice, and VetsCare Senior.
Currently enrolled veterans who are happy with their health care can choose to remain in the traditional VA system through the VetsCare Federal program. Those who are not happy have the option to move to the VetsCare Choice program, which will allow veterans to seek private care while providing premium support aligned with a veteran’s Priority Group status. Veterans who are deemed 100 percent disabled will receive 100 percent coverage, and those who need further financial assistance can qualify for additional premium and cost-sharing support. Veterans over the age of 65, or who receive Medicare due to disability, qualify for the VetsCare Senior program to help defray the costs of Medicare payments and supplemental coverage (Medigap). All eligible veterans can still receive service-connected care at VACO facilities, regardless of the program they are participating in. This ensures our VACO medical facilities continue to focus on service-connected injuries, illnesses, and diseases to ensure our nation’s veterans get the highest quality of specialized care they need.
Veterans will also be eligible to enroll in the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program, a benefit currently available to VA employees, or apply the equivalent premium support payment to the purchase of alternative, private long-term care insurance.
REALIGN VITAL INFRASTRUCTURE TO ENSURE GREATEST BENEFIT
Our current VA medical infrastructure fails to efficiently meet the needs of America’s veterans. Some veterans must travel long distances to receive care because access to VA facilities is limited, while in some areas VA facilities are underutilized because of excess capacity. This inefficient distribution results in high fixed costs for the VA, robbing veterans of funds that should be used to provide health care. The Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act will allow the VetsCare Advisory Commission to recommend for closure underutilized VA facilities, to which Congress can object. The realignment will create efficiencies that free funds to be used for providing quality health care instead of maintaining unneeded infrastructure. The Commission must ensure that the availability of health care services for veterans is not decreased in impacted areas.
ENSURE VIGILANT OVERSIGHT BY EXPERTS, NOT BUREAUCRATSThe independent VetsCare Advisory Commission, a nonpartisan commission modeled after the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, will monitor implementation of the law and provide recommendations to Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs on veterans’ health care reforms moving forward. The Commission, which will be comprised of 15 members including health care experts and veterans, is charged with continuously assessing the quality of veterans’ health care and recommending legislative proposals for improving such care for consideration by Congress. This commission will ensure that the policies we implement on behalf of our veterans are not stagnant, and are constantly being improved to keep up with current innovations in the health care community.