Last week, Congressman Andy Biggs introduced the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act. The bill was introduced to “ensure that America’s veterans have greater access to the health care they need and deserve.” According to the press release, the bill removes barriers to free–market health care by allowing veterans to access primary, specialty, and mental care at non-VA facilities and outside of their corresponding Veterans Integrated Service Networks. The bill also requires the VA to give veterans information about eligibility, cost sharing, treatment options, and providers so that they are able to make informed decisions.
Congressman Biggs stated, “Seven years ago this month it was discovered that more than forty veterans had died while waiting for health care from the Phoenix VA. Our veterans were forced into a health care system that did not meet their physical or mental health needs. They faced long wait times and poor service. While we have seen marked improvement, some problems still exist.
This legislation is a step in the right direction that ensures our veterans will be able to obtain timely and quality care. By allowing our veterans to access community care facilities, we can ensure that no veteran goes without care. I am proud to fight for our veterans in Washington and will continue to fight for them until they get the care they deserve. I look forward to working with my colleagues, veteran advocates, and the Administration to pass this bill and ensure our veterans get the care they deserve.”
On Twitter Biggs commented, “On Friday, I introduced the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act to ensure that America’s veterans have greater access to the health care they deserve by removing barriers to free-market health care.”
On Friday, I introduced the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act to ensure that America’s veterans have greater access to the health care they deserve by removing barriers to free-market health care.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) May 4, 2021
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are over 18.2 million veterans who have served in the U.S. military. According to VA.gov, Arizona has over 500,000 veterans. Military.com reports that the average wait time for a veteran to receive routine care is 30 days, and they have to be approved by the agency to receive community care. After that, the patient is referred to a different facility. If the law is passed, veterans will only need approval from their primary-care doctor.
A VA spokesperson stated, “When a veteran is in need of care on an urgent basis, veterans are consistently receiving it within two days in the community. For routine care services, the time between when a request for care is placed and when a veteran receives an appointment will vary due to the urgency of the appointment and the Veteran’s individual preferences for when to receive the care.”
The bill has eight co-sponsors: Rep. Maria Salazar, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Yvette Herrell, Rep. Ted Budd, Rep. Marjorie Greene, Rep. Roger Williams, Rep. Bob Good, & Rep. Lisa McClain.