Discuss how state and federal policies are (or are not) addressing Veteran healthcare needs.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Health Administration (VA) provide health care to veterans through roughly 171 medical centers and 1,113 outpatient locations across the nation (Rasmussen & Farmer, 2023). In 2021, it was estimated that approximately 9.2 million veterans were enrolled in VA services, and 6.8 million veterans received medical care with the yearly cost for care averaging roughly $14,750 per veteran (Rasmussen & Farmer, 2023). While many services are offered through the VA, veterans often receive medical care from non-VA settings for various reasons including poor access to care (i.e., long wait times or extensive travel) from the VA medical center (Apaydin et al., 2023). To address gaps in care, federal policies have been implemented including the Veteran Access, Choice, and Accountability (â€œChoiceâ€) Act of 2014 which allows veterans to receive medical care outside of the VA medical system if they are unable to schedule a visit with the VA within 30 days or if they live further than 40 miles from the VA health center (Apaydin et al., 2023). Additionally, state reviews and policies have been implemented to better serve veterans within each state. For example, Maine published an assessment in 2022 that highlighted VA services in Maine with consideration of barriers to access to care, benefits of VA healthcare services, mental healthcare services, VA community care networks, geriatric healthcare services, transportation services, and more (Sherman, 2022). Through this assessment, the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services (MBVS) identified barriers to care and implemented strategies to increase awareness of veteran services available to veterans living in Maine; improved records management systems to improve customer service; and improved connections between veterans and state and federal benefits (Sherman, 2022).
In your personal opinion: Do you advocate for privatization of the VA healthcare system? Please explain why or why not.
Several members of my family are veterans, and I have personally witnessed the barriers present to receiving care through the VA in Maine. For example, my husband established his medical care through the VA after being discharged from the military, but my father and father-in-law have not established their care through the VA as they feel it is too difficult a process to become established with and receive care from the VA. They both feel that it is easier to receive care through our local non-VA medical center as they receive medical care quickly from the local hospital, and their insurance covers this medical care. Additionally, while my husband receives his medical care through the VA, his appointments are scheduled many months out, and the VA emergency department is generally severely understaffed.
After considering the numerous factors to receiving medical care through the VA including the establishment of VA services, access to veteran services (i.e., inpatient and outpatient locations within the state), and prolonged wait times to receive services, I do not advocate for the privatization of the VA healthcare system. Rather, I recommend focusing efforts on increasing awareness of veteran services available in each state; assisting veterans in obtaining and submitting their DD 214 form to establish care within the VA system; upgrading medical record systems used by the VA to improve continuity of care; and addressing the medical staff shortages within the VA medical center as each of these factors are barriers to veterans accessing healthcare by the VA health system (Sherman, 2022).