BY U.S. SENATOR MARK PRYOR –
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today unveiled legislation to prevent Arkansas veterans from being dropped from the VA healthcare system following long periods between doctor’s appointments. Pryor introduced the legislation in response to concerns raised by the American Legion during a meeting in Little Rock.
“Forcing a veteran to visit the VA just so they can stay in the system makes absolutely no sense. Neither does making a veteran re-enroll and get back in line. It wastes the veteran’s time and it burdens an already overwhelmed VA healthcare system,” Pryor said. “I appreciate the American Legion for alerting me to this problem this week. I’m working quickly to resolve it for our veterans.”
Under current protocol, a veteran who is enrolled in the VA healthcare system but does not receive care or services within two years is reclassified as a new patient. This status change can often cause veterans to wait longer for doctor’s appointments and specialty services. For example, the recent VA audit showed that new patients at the Little Rock VA facility wait nearly 60 days for a doctor’s appointment while established patients wait only four days.
Pryor’s bill, The Continuing Care for Veterans Act, would prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from altering availability and wait times for hospital care, medical services, or other health care based on the length of time since the veteran’s last visit to a VA facility.