In response to concerns about access to medical care at many Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics across the country, Congress passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA). On August 7, 2014, President Obama signed the bill into law (P.L. 113-146 as amended by P.L. 113-175 and P.L. 113-235). For a detailed provision-by-provision explanation of the Act see, CRS Report R43704, Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; P.L. 113-146). Section 101 of VACAA authorized the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) ―a new, temporary program that provides veterans the ability to receive medical care in the community. The temporary program will end when the $10 billion in mandatory funding are used, or no later than August 7, 2017. This new program is in addition to several already existing statutory authorities that allow the VA to provide care outside of its own health care system (38 U.S.C.§§ 1703, 1703note, 1725, 1728, 8111, and 8153). Generally, these statutory authorities fall into three broad categories: 1) contracts to purchase care, 2) non-contracted medical care purchased on a fee for service basis from providers in the community, and 3) emergency care when delays may be hazardous to a veteran’s life or health. Furthermore, in September 2013, the VA had awarded contracts to two private companies (Health Net Federal Services, LLC, and TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corporation) to implement the Patient Centered Community Care (PC3) program―a care coordination and referral program to provide eligible veterans access to care when VA cannot provide health services either at a VA medical facility or through other federal agencies or sharing agreements. In FY2014, the VA spent approximately $7 billion (excluding VCP) to purchase care from the community, and authorized almost 14 million outpatient visits, among other services and procedures (excluding VCP).
Date of Report: 5/11/2015
Order Number: IF10224
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