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Bill to cut red tape and wait times for veterans’ appointments at VA medical facilities heads to President’s desk to be signed into law

U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced that their bipartisan bill that would establish a patient self-scheduling appointment system at Veterans Affairs Medical Facilities has passed the Senate and is headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. A June 2014 internal audit by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that more than 120,000 veterans waited at least 90 days for appointments for health care or never received appointments. Other hospitals and health systems are now leveraging technology to eliminate wait times and ensure that every available appointment is used. The bipartisan Faster Care for Veterans Act would direct the Secretary of the VA to commence a pilot program under which veterans could use the internet to schedule and confirm appointments for health care at VA medical facilities.

“Excessive wait times can put veterans’ lives at risk, but state-of-the art technology that makes it easier to schedule appointments already exists and is being used in other hospital systems,” said Klobuchar. “Our veterans have earned the right to use the same technology to schedule their medical appointments without unnecessary red tape and delays. This bipartisan bill will take an important step forward in ensuring that our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much have access to the medical care they need and deserve.”

“The long wait times our veterans face are simply unacceptable,” said Ernst. “This bipartisan legislation takes important steps towards modernizing the VA’s scheduling process, adopting practices successfully used in the private sector to allow veterans to schedule and confirm their appointments online. I am pleased that my colleagues in both the Senate and the House have recognized the urgency in giving our veterans faster, hassle-free access to service. I urge the President to sign this bill into law as quickly as possible.”
Upon enactment of the Faster Care for Veterans Act, the VA would be required to commence an 18-month pilot program that would allow veterans to self-schedule, confirm, and modify outpatient and specialty care appointments in real time through the internet. This technology allows veterans to immediately schedule appointments canceled by other veterans and schedule appointments 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

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