VA tests partnership with CVS to reduce veterans' wait times

VA tests partnership with CVS to reduce veterans' wait times

VA tests partnership with CVS to reduce veterans' wait times

President Donald Trump has signed a bill extending a program that lets some veterans seek medical care in the private sector.

Flanked by officials from veterans groups in a White House signing ceremony, Trump praised the legislation as key to ensuring access to care for veterans and important to his larger promised reform plans.

The law eliminates the August expiration date of a program born out of the 2014 Department of Veterans Affairs wait time scandal that allows enrolled veterans to see doctors in their communities instead of waiting for a VA appointment.

The program, meant to clear the back log of VA patients waiting for care, was set to expire in August.

In a March report, the Government Accountability Office said veterans in the Choice program still face long wait times, mostly because cases must be referred to private contractors for scheduling. That proposal is due out by fall. We will continue working with our colleagues in the Senate and the new administration to follow through on our commitment to those who have borne the price of battle for our nation.

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The new pilot program was announced Tuesday.

In the statement Monday, Poonam Alaigh, acting VA under secretary for health, said the VA was "focused on process improvements".

Media outlets had reported that VA medical centers were cutting off caregiver benefits to families, possibly violating the department's rules. Major features of the program include medical support for caregivers, who often suffer from health problems as they focus on the veteran's well-being, and providing stipends to compensate caregivers' time. He said those appointments would have otherwise "lagged" in the VA scheduling system.

"This is a good day for veterans", he said. At the same time, he wants the VA to work in partnership by handling all the scheduling and "customer service", something that congressional auditors say could be unwieldy and expensive.

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