Over the past year, the Department of Veterans Affairs has hired more medical staff, extended office hours and boosted productivity in order to provide Veterans greater access to care.

Nationally, VA completed more than 56.2 million appointments between June 1, 2014, and May 31, 2015 — 2.6 million more appointments than were completed during the same time period in 2013-2014. VA also made more than 3 million authorizations for outside care.

Veterans are responding to these efforts to increase access by coming to VA for more care, and VA is committed to working with Congress to meet that increased demand.

This morning, the chairmen and ranking members of both the House and Senate committees on Veterans Affairs met with VA leadership to discuss the growing demand and increased access to care.

The meeting follows Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson’s letter earlier this week requesting that Congress act expeditiously to approve VA’s pending request for fiscal year 2015 budget flexibility. The request, formally transmitted on June 23rd, seeks the transfer of funds from the Choice Program to continue VA’s efforts to increase Veterans’ access to care and life-saving pharmaceuticals.

“It is essential that Congress pass legislation to provide the requested budget flexibility by the end of July 2015,” he wrote. “This is necessary to replenish critical operations funding that VA had to reallocate from other medical services programs to sustain Care in the Community, after those funds were depleted … if these program funds are not restored, VA will face shutting down hospital operations during August 2015.”

VA has requested from Congress the ability to amend the Choice Act to use up to $3 billion of Choice Program funds to meet Veterans Demand for Care in the Community, of which no more than $500 million could be used for Hepatitis C treatment.

Budget Impacts

  • In February and March, and again in May of this year, VA formally requested limited budget flexibility to utilize existing resources, in a budget-neutral manner, to continue to provide Veterans needed care while plainly articulating the denial of access to care that would result if resources are not made available.
  • VA continues to seek budget flexibility from Congress to utilize existing Choice Program funds to continue its efforts to increase Veterans’ access to care.
    • Without this flexibility, VA will have no option but to defer all remaining Care in the Community authorizations until October 1, 2015.
    • As stated above, it is essential that Congress include in this legislation the ability for VA to replenish critical operations funding that, in order to continue offering Care in the Community, were reallocated from other medical services programs. If these program funds are not restored, VA will face shutting down hospital operations during August 2015.
  • The request for budget flexibility is consistent with the intent of Congress to accelerate access and the Department’s request to allow resources to flow to Veterans’ needs as they evolve. VA is dedicated to working with Congress on this urgent issue.

Expanding Access to Care                                                

  • Nationally, VA completed nearly 56.2 million appointments between June 1, 2014, and May 31, 2015. This represents an increase of 2.6 million more completed appointments than during the same time period in 2013-2014.
  • In April 2015, VA completed 97 percent of appointments within 30 days of the clinically indicated or Veteran’s preferred date; 93 percent within 14 days; 88 percent within 7 days; and 22 percent on the same day. VA has completed 12 million same-day appointments, which is 20 percent of VA’s total appointments per year.
  • The combination of increasing appointments inside VA and in the community has resulted in approximately 7 million additional appointments for care. Considering that there were 290,000 Veterans waiting more than 30 days for care one year ago, this increase in capacity is double that required to meet last year’s demand.

Providing More Care in the Community

  • VA made over 3 million authorizations for Veterans to receive care in the private sector between June 1, 2014 and June 15, 2015. This represents a 41 percent increase in authorizations, when compared to the same period in previous years. Over 1 million appointments are completed per month through doctors and clinics in the community, which represents nearly 20 percent of total appointments.
  • VA expanded the Patient Centered Community Program (PC3) to increase access to health care in the community.
  • VA extended the Project Access Received Closer to Home (Project ARCH) pilot program to continue to expand access to health care for eligible Veterans in rural areas.
  • VA implemented the Choice Program in November of 2014, which allows Veterans greater flexibility in receiving healthcare from non-VA doctors if specific eligibility criteria are met:
    • A Veteran must have been enrolled in VA health care on or before August 1, 2014, or be eligible to enroll as a recently discharged combat Veteran within 5 years of separation.
    • The Veteran is told by his/her local VA medical facility that he/she will need to wait more than 30 days from his/her preferred date or the date medically determined by his/her physician.
    • The Veteran’s current residence is more than 40-miles driving distance from the closest VA health care facility.


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Published on Jul. 16, 2015

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  1. crazyelf July 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Here are additional ‘sites’.
    VA supervisor took $1.2 million in kickbacks.”, prosecutors say. (The Washington Post).”
    “Veterans used in secret tests make progress in court.” (Military Times).”
    “White House promises action on VA inspector general.” (Military Times)”
    “Plan in place to eliminate rats, bats at hospitals, VA says.” (Military Times)”
    “Lawmakers, families question VA Legionnaires’ probe.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)”
    “New goal at VA: Treating thr root causes of vets’ pain.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
    “L.A. area veterans facility waste water during drought.” (Breitbart News)”
    “New surge is fueling memberships in military motorcycle clubs.” (Military Times)”
    “Veterans and civilians are helping one another in former police station.” (The Los Angeles Times)”
    “VA employees in Philadelphia face discipline over claims delays.” (Military Times)”
    “Orlando launches ‘surge’ to find homeless veterans.” (Orlando Sentinel)”
    “Couple guilty in VA embezzlement case.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)”
    “MLB, Reds open Cincinnati veterans assistance center.” (Cincinnati.com)”
    “Lawmakers concerned about suburban D.C. veterans clinic closure.” (The Washington Times)”
    “New Estimate for VA Hospital Includes $180 Million for Parking lots.” (Denver Post)”
    “Fiduciaries in Indiana caught recently for embezzling monies from vets they were supposed to be helping.” I believe this came out of Indianapolis.

    Like I said, there are a great number of stories out concerning VA. All one has to do is look. Of course, if everyone isn’t worried about how our tax dollars are being spent. Then when the U.S. is in the same situation as Greece. Then don’t go crying to anyone. Because It’s the taxpayers fault for not stopping it in It’s tracks sooner!!!

  2. crazyelf July 23, 2015 at 8:45 am

    I believe there are few good physicians, nurses, technicians etc., etc., in Va. Only I also believe there are more “Bad ones”! We see, almost daily now, a VA facility coming under fire for some form of egregious act against Veterans.
    Example; the Detroit Va yesterday, 22 July, were “protesting” over concerns of people being ‘let go’! Their main concern, though, was over “patient abuse and neglect”!
    How about VA’s in Georgia, turning vets away, by saying; “Sorry, we’re not accepting any new patients.”
    How about the VA losing and/or destroying thousands of veterans files in California.
    How about the arrests of 1 VA employee and 2 civilians at the Tomah, Wisconsin VA this past monday on drug charges.
    How about the stories concerning vets “passing away”. Yet are still “on the books” years after their deaths.
    How about the $1.73 BILLION VA Hospital fiasco in Aurora, Colorado. And let’s not forget all the other hospital fiascos. Which are costing the taxpayers millions, if not BILLIONS of wasted tax monies.
    These stories, and MANY MORE, can be found on Disabled Veterans dot Org. One can also go to Military dot com, Newsmax dot com and many more sites to read what VA has NOT done for the veterans.
    I hope all veterans get great care. Only many do not.
    Congressmen and women and Senators are well aware of the illegal contracting done by VA employees in high positions. Read what Mr. Frye had to say about, on average “$6 billion a year” is being illegally spent. By not following the laws.

    There’s so many examples which have come to lighten in the past year alone. It would, or should, anger every taxpayer and veteran.
    Here’s another one, just for fun, the VA hospital in Los Vegas has leather couches and chairs. Plus ” Color Changing Walls” for the veterans. Then, for unknown reasons, they wanted MORE money for something. My question would be did they forget to purchase medical equipment?
    That’s all for now, happy searching……

  3. DannyG July 22, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    First, Well said, Gary! I see stuff on this blog that pi#$×s me off; some that makes me proud as hell, & some that I can’t believe got printed. Sometimes my own mouth gets me into situations that make me really appreciate the 1st amendment! Except to block politial party statements & protect our personal data, you guys seldom edit out anything.
    I don’t kiss nobody’s butt, but I believe in a pat on the back when one is due!! We have a place where we an vent our anger & say just abt anything we want to – don’t go pickin on the editors!
    OH YEAH, we can also say good things abt the VETERANS Administration as well. In 2010, my PCP “thought” I had cancer, within abt 4-6 mos, I hadtests, biopsies, & surgery, & have been cancer free since.
    I support the VETERANS Health Administration because they helped saved my life! I support Secretary Robert A. McDonald because he is the best hope America’s Veterans have of being treated fairly. We are “entitled” to one thing: to have the Fed. Gov’t keep their word to us!

  4. dan flesh July 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Tell me why you are threatening to close down some healthcare if you don’t get the additional 3 billion? Your spending is out of control. The waste and fraud is legion and you expect the taxpayer’s to keep taking this? I am a 100% disabled combat vet and in the past year I have seen NO improvement and I am damn sick and tired of traveling 70 miles one way for most of my care because there is a CBOC located 39 miles from me – that only gives primary care service. The Refional offices if Philadelphia and San Diego are still a mess….why not report on them and the ongoing IG investigations as I write? I doubt you will let this pass for public view, but I guess Gary Hicks and the rest of the people at public affairs can keep up the propaganda forever.

    • Gary Hicks July 20, 2015 at 6:27 am

      Veterans always have a voice on VAntage Point Dan.

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