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Sens. Cruz, Scott, Ossoff Lead Bipartisan Effort Ensuring Veterans Receive Timely Access to Health Care

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The bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a comprehensive standard for timing between referrals and appointments at VA facilities and to submit a report with respect to that standard. Image for illustration purposes
The bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a comprehensive standard for timing between referrals and appointments at VA facilities and to submit a report with respect to that standard. Image for illustration purposes
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WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Scheduling for Community Health and Easy Data to Understand for Legislators to Evaluate Services (SCHEDULES) Act. The bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a comprehensive standard for timing between referrals and appointments at VA facilities and to submit a report with respect to that standard. This legislation is based on reports from the Government Accountability Office that highlighted issues related to timeliness in accessing care for veterans. 

Upon introducing the bill, Sen. Cruz said“Veterans should never have to wait a long time after a referral before receiving health care. We must ensure the great Americans who dedicated themselves to protect us abroad receive essential care in a timely manner here at home. I am proud to join Sens. Rick Scott and Ossoff in working to reform this issue at the VA.”

Congressman Scott Franklin (R-Fla.) introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives. 

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BACKGROUND: 

The SCHEDULES Act requires: 

  • The Secretary of the VA to establish a comprehensive standard for timing between the date on which a referral for care is entered into the Care Coordination System and the date on which the appointment for that referral occurs;
  • A quarterly report to Congress on the number of referrals that meet the standard the VA sets; and
  • A ranking of VA medical centers from best to worst on meeting the standard set by the VA.

This legislation has been endorsed by the Blinded Veterans Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

This month, Sens. Cruz, Scott, and Ossoff also sent a bipartisan inquiry to the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, regarding veterans facing lengthy delays between referral dates and scheduled medical appointments at VA community care locations. Read the full letter here.

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