Veterans Committee Passes Bill to Improve Veterans Healthcare Services​
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, praised the committee’s passage of the Caring for Our Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation that would streamline and improve veterans’ healthcare services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and in the community. The legislation includes several provisions offered by Cassidy, and now awaits a vote in the full Senate.

“This bipartisan bill will give veterans more healthcare options and ensure their needs are met,” saidDr. Cassidy. “Louisiana veterans deserve quality care without having to wait.”

Cassidy’s provisions would:

Require the VA secretary to report annually to Congress on the amount paid by the VA in overdue claims, and the number of late payments made by each VA facility and service network. Delays in processing times severely hamstring community providers who are on the hook when the VA fails to pay them within the time frame required. Consistent overdue claims threaten the participation of these community providers.

Recognize podiatrist as physicians within the VA and allow the VA to hire and maintain well qualified, board certified podiatrists in order to ensure veterans receive quality podiatric care. The VA currently has serious recruitment and retention problems because its podiatric compensation package has not been updated since 1976.

The Caring for Our Veterans Act would:
Establish a permanent, streamlined Veterans Community Care Program to provide veterans with access to health care and services in their own communities. Under this legislation, a veteran and his or her doctor will decide where that veteran will receive care, taking into consideration the veteran’s healthcare needs and the availability and quality of both VA and community care.

Improve existing VA health care and services by removing barriers for VA healthcare professionals to practice telemedicine, strengthening opioid prescription guidelines for VA and partnering community care providers, and eliminating impediments to hiring and retention of VA healthcare professionals.

Expand eligibility for the VA's Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to veterans of all generations, including Vietnam-era veterans.

Authorize access to walk-in community clinics for enrolled veterans who have previously used VA healthcare services in the last two years.
Allow the VA to enter into agreements with community healthcare and extended care providers that easily meet veterans’ demands for care in the community. 

Create reporting requirements to ensure all VA and community care programs are operating efficiently and effectively based on a number of factors including veterans’ satisfaction and quality standards, among others.
Create standards for timely payment to community care providers.

The legislation is supported by The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Wounded Warrior Project.