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. 


Debra Chew: Lifted Out Of The Quicksand Of Fear

I sat paralyzed in my car at the bottom of a steep driveway - on Signal Mountain.  I had an important lunch meeting there because I was about to be introduced to Dalton Roberts, a writer from Chattanooga.  I had enjoyed reading his columns, and as I was a new writer, not only was I looking forward to gaining some insight into publishing opportunities in Chattanooga but ... (click for more)

Morning Pointe Residents Put Contest Earnings Toward Alzheimer's Fundraiser

Morning Pointe of Chattanooga at Shallowford was the regional winner of the corporate Spring Fling contest.  The assisted community was rewarded with $550 for a celebration.  Instead of having a party, the directors of Morning Pointe of Chattanooga knew that residents would want to share their prize with the community so they decided to put it towards one of their biggest ... (click for more)

Woman Seriously Injured After Plowing Into Rossville Boulevard Car Dealership Saturday Evening

A woman was seriously injured after plowing her vehicle into a car dealership on Rossville Boulevard on Saturday evening.   At approximately  6:49 p.m., the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 2818 Rossville Blvd. on an accident with injuries.   A blue vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed lost control.  The vehicle crashed ... (click for more)

Boy, 4, Struck By Vehicle Near Tunnel Boulevard

A four-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near Tunnel Boulevard on Saturday afternoon. A t approximately 4:20 p.m.,  the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 3400 Through St. on a c hild struck by a vehicle.  T he victim was conscious when officers arrived. He was transported to a local hospital. I nvestigators are continuing to compile ... (click for more)

DWT Is DUI - And Response

A routine narrative of a DUI arrest report goes something like this:   The defendant was operating a motor vehicle in the 00 block of sonsoroad. The driver was weaving back and forth across the marked roadway. The defendant drove through a stop sign. Was stopped at an intersection despite the traffic light was green. Entered the lane of another vehicle and caused a ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Voters Think

There are over 9,000 students who attend Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., which – in an effort to be relative -- is just a touch smaller than our UT-Chattanooga. What makes Quinnipiac unique is that it is home of The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which produces what’s called the “Q Poll” because hardly anybody knows how to pronounce “Kwin-uh-pe-ack.” The Q ... (click for more)