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Obama signs Ernst bill, cutting red tape and wait time for veterans at VA medical facilities

U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill first introduced by Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota – cutting red tape and wait time for veterans at VA medical facilities – has been signed into law by President Obama.

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 directs 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 Senator Amy Klobuchar. “Our veterans have earned the right to use the same technology to schedule their medical appointments without unnecessary red tape and delays. Now that our bill has been signed into law, we have taken 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.”

Senator Joni Ernst

“Our veterans shouldn’t be forced to wait weeks on end for an appointment at the VA,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “The Faster Care for Veterans Act will allow veterans to schedule and confirm their appointments at VA centers online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Modernizing the appointment process means quicker and more accessible service. I am pleased that this new law will help to uphold our commitment to provide quality and timely care for our nation’s veterans.”
Under the Faster Care for Veterans Act, the VA is 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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