After hearing from veterans frustrated by a lack of timely access to quality health care, today Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-04) sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough demanding answers. According to the VA, a veteran seeking mental health care in the 4th District is forced to wait 27 days on average.
“My office has been working with veterans whose cases range from being told to endure their ailments for months at a time, being forced to travel over 50 miles for their treatment, and a lack of mental health treatment and compassion after the fall of Afghanistan. No matter the case, the gap in the system that rural veterans are falling into is unacceptable,” Feenstra wrote.
Feenstra discussed the issues veterans face when attempting to visit private health care providers, after many have stopped seeing veterans because the VA has failed to reimburse them in a timely manner. Feenstra expressed optimism that the VA’s proposal to develop an Office for Integrated Veteran Care will result in a better system that closes gaps in rural areas. Additionally, he conveyed frustration on behalf of veterans in the 4th District who have felt the VA treated them with a lack of decency.
After raising attention to these issues, Feenstra demanded answers from Secretary McDonough on the following questions:
- How will the Office for Integrated Veteran Care minimize the wait times veterans in my district face?
- What is being done to streamline the reimbursement process, so more health care providers opt into the system?
- Is the Independence Line being considered a substitute for mental health care for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq?
“As you bring about your new policy plan and start establishing the Office for Integrated Veteran Care, please consider that rural veterans require — and deserve — a thoughtful approach to treatment. Time and time again, the VA has accommodated larger health care systems, while leaving behind areas who rely on smaller health care providers. Veterans who live in rural districts like mine deserve access to quality health care,” Feenstra concluded.