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. 



VIDEO: New Hospice Care Center

A new Hospice Care Center has moved across from Erlanger Health System on 3rd Street. It will open  on Monday . (click for more)

State Representatives Gerald McCormick And Ron Travis To Serve On Wellness Caucus

State Representatives Gerald McCormick and Ron Travis announced Wednesday that they will serve on a Wellness Caucus created by members of the Tennessee General Assembly and in collaboration with the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness.   The caucus is chaired by State Representative Ryan Williams and Senator Bo Watson. It consists of 37 members from both the House ... (click for more)

3 People Shot Early Saturday Morning; 1 Is Killed; 2 Victims Are Known Gang Members

Ladarius Cross, 28, Terrance Careathers, 26, and a juvenile were shot early Saturday morning. Cross was killed.   Chattanooga Police responded to a motor vehicle crash at 5:16 a.m. in the 1400 block of Roanoke Avenue.   Upon arrival, Chattanooga Police Officers located the single vehicle crash with two people suffering for apparent gunshot wounds. The driver, ... (click for more)

Longest-Serving County Official Knowles Is First In Line To Sign Up For New Term

Bill Knowles is one of the longest-serving officials in Hamilton County history, and he's not through yet. County clerk since 1974, he was the first in line on Friday morning to pick up his petition for re-election. Then he beat everyone back with the completed form. Mr. Knowles said, "I ran in 1974 on a campaign of ending the long tag lines. We put in a tag by mail system ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Should Be Problem Solvers Around The City

Re: Roy Exum’s “Stay, Signal Mountain, Stay”  Well this article is something to think about. I think the split could go either way, and Signal Mountain schools would still flourish, as they have done for the past several years. What I'm worried about is why Signal Mountain has not yet had the guts to go be problem solvers at Howard, or Tyner, or Central. Why do ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

As we welcome another Saturday of the funnies, our attention is drawn to two little boys, ages 5 and 7, who are excessively mischievous. They are always getting into trouble and their parents know if any mischief occurs in their town, the two boys are probably involved.    Understand, we have no idea who these boys are, or where any of the Saturday Funnies originate. ... (click for more)