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. 


Erlanger North To Offer Typical Sunday Lunches

Starting on  Sunday, Aug. 7 , Erlanger North Hospital will offer a unique spin on your typical Sunday lunch. Every  Sunday , from  11 a.m. to 1 p.m. , the hospital will offer lunch to the community in the cafeteria. Meals will consist of a meat and three vegetables for only $5. All meals will come with a roll and a 16 oz drink. Dessert is ... (click for more)

Erlanger Welcomes New Pediatric Neurologist To Children’s Hospital

Erlanger Health System welcomes Thomas Ireland, MD, pediatric neurologist, to the growing network of pediatric subspecialists at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. “Dr. Ireland’s expertise in pediatric neurology will be invaluable for treating our children now and in the future at our new Children’s Hospital,” said Don Mueller, CEO of Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. ... (click for more)

Nashville Man Arrested By TBI For Trafficking 12-Year-Old Texas Girl For Sex

Special Agents in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Unit, working alongside local and federal partners, have arrested and charged a Nashville man accused of trafficking a 12-year-old from Texas for the purposes of commercial sex. On Friday evening, the TBI received information from the U.S. Marshals Service about the possible whereabouts of a Texas ... (click for more)

Michael Ford Sentenced To More Than 13 Years In Prison On Drug Charges

Michael Shawn Ford has been sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison on drug charges. On April 20, 2105, Ford was arrested at his house in East Ridge. Police found him hiding in the closet with a laundry bag which contained a loaded pistol and 7.9 grams of crystal meth. Officers said that two backpacks were found in the same bedroom, one with 257.3 grams of crystal meth ... (click for more)

Olympic Events On The Ocoee River Made History – But It Wasn’t Easy

It started with a simple “what if” question while Atlanta officials were working on a bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.  A group of amateur kayakers from the city began asking themselves: “What if Atlanta’s bid is successful? Then where would the Olympic whitewater canoe and kayak races be held?”  To some of the members of that group, the answer was obvious. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Today’s Offensive Word

A respected Knoxville business owner, Lois McGinnis, called the classifieds desk at the Knoxville News-Sentinel on Tuesday and politely asked to place an ad she wanted to appear on Thursday: “Store closing sale – Cedar Springs Christian Store –Clinton Highway location. All merchandise, fixtures, slat walls must go. Sale through August 13, phone 865-XXX-XXXX.” But on Thursday ... (click for more)