Alexander Cosponsors Legislation To Give Veterans Choices For Medical Care And Cut Wait Times

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced that he is an original cosponsor of legislation introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) that would give veterans the choice to use private doctors or facilities as alternatives to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, if the VA cannot schedule an appointment for an eligible veteran within a reasonable period of time or if the veteran resides more than 40 miles from any VA hospitals and clinic. 

“This begins to give veterans the same choices for their health care that our country has given them for higher education since the G.I. Bill was enacted in 1944,” Alexander said. “Fundamentally, if a veteran lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility or has to wait more than a reasonable number of days, the veteran can receive care from a doctor or provider of his or her choice.” 

The Veterans Choice Act of 2014 – the second piece of legislation Senator Alexander has cosponsored to address the VA crisis – would seek to reduce wait times at VA facilities in the wake of reports that veterans in Phoenix had been waiting an average of 115 days just to see a primary care doctor. This legislation would allow veterans to choose a private doctor or facility for their federally provided medical care if they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility or have waited more time to receive care than is deemed acceptable under the VA’s own standards. 

Senator Alexander continued, “The reports that veterans in Phoenix have been waiting for 115 days just to see a primary care doctor are completely unacceptable, and this is not due to a lack of funding. Since fiscal year 2009, funding for the VA increased by roughly 60 percent, and VA health care spending for veterans has increased since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Over the long term, our goal should be to build on the model of the G.I. Bill for veterans – which has given millions of veterans access to college – to give them the same sort of choices for health care.” 

The legislation was authored by Senators Burr, John McCain (R-Ariz.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), with Alexander joining Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Pat Roberts (R-Kans.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) as original cosponsors.  

This legislation also includes the VA Management Accountability Act introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The Rubio legislation, which Alexander also cosponsored, would allow the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to immediately fire or demote Senior Executive Service employees for poor job performance. Alexander has also sent three letters with Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) requesting information on VA health facilities in Tennessee and around the nation. 


Inaugural LIFE FORCE Call Of The Year Awards Recognize Regional EMS Providers

Erlanger Health System’s air medical program, LIFE FORCE, held a ceremony to honor local EMS heroes who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in the inaugural Call of the Year awards during national EMS Week. LIFE FORCE flight crew members and awards committee selected outstanding calls in the categories of Medical, Pediatric and Trauma.   Medical Call of the Year ... (click for more)

Cherokee Health Systems' Chief Clinical Officer To Participate Best Practices Study

Parinda Khatri, PhD, Cherokee Health Systems’ chief clinical officer, has been selected by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health to join an advisory group of health care professionals that will travel to Spain next month to conduct in-depth research on best practices in health care delivery.   Dr. Khatri will join professionals from ... (click for more)

Bryan Johnson, Timothy Gadson, Stuart Greenberg, Wayne Johnson, Kirk Kelly Are Superintendent Finalists

Bryan Johnson of Clarksville, Tn., was the top vote-getter on the opening round of balloting for Hamilton County school superintendent. The chief academic officer for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System was on the ballot of all nine school board members at a special meeting on Thursday afternoon. Others who made the cut were Timothy Gadson, a Minnesota educator; ... (click for more)

Man Shot In Home Invasion Early Wednesday Morning

A man was shot in a home invasion early Wednesday morning.   Chattanooga Police responded to a person shot on the 6000 block of Arlena Circle at 4:40 a.m. Upon arrival, police located the victim, Edward Greatheart, 41,  who was suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound.   Mr. Greatheart was treated on the scene and transported to a local hospital ... (click for more)

Life For Our Ancestors In 1890

May 26-27 is the 1890’s Day Jamboree in Ringgold. I encourage any reader to attend and enjoy that wonderful community. I love having grown up in Northwest Georgia and celebrating our veterans, including both of my grandfathers who served in WWII.  But I also want to describe how the 1890’s were for my ancestors, living here in a singularly turbulent time. Based on, among ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Suicide Letter

Two weeks ago there were five suicides and a fatal drug overdose in the same Chattanooga community. That absolutely tears me up inside because I am assured almost every day there is a better answer. I make no secret I struggle with depression and it is real. I want others to see if I can get through the valleys to climb the mountain, they can too. I take medicine every day that ... (click for more)