On July 6, 2016, the Commission on Care formally released its report on the future of veterans’ health care.
On July 6, 2016, the Commission on Care formally released its report on the future of veterans’ health care. The Commission was originally established by the “Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.” The report contains 18 major recommendations. The most notable recommendations include establishment of an integrated health care network to expand access to care. This recommendation mirrors in many ways previous recommendations of The Independent Budget—co-authored by PVA, DAV, and VFW—as well as the current community care consolidation plan that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) unveiled last fall.
The Commission also recommended a governance board to oversee the planning, policy and implementation of a new veterans’ health care system. While this idea seems intriguing, it does not contemplate the biggest challenges of a new governance structure. Specifically, this board would actually be more politically driven than current VA leadership due to the mechanism for selecting board members (appointed by House and Senate leadership). Additionally, the Commission did not rationalize the interaction between the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration and how that would be impacted by this new governance structure.
The greatest concern PVA has with the Commission report is the recommendation regarding “choice.” The report calls for allowing veterans the choice of primary provider within the new integrated health care networks. However, it does not consider the impact that giving more veterans expanded choice will have on the current VA health care system and specifically specialized services, such as spinal cord injury and disease care. The Commission analysis suggests that as much as 40 percent more care will move into the community under this proposal.
PVA also expressed other concerns with the Commission report. We will be providing our detailed analysis for a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing on the Commission report in September. PVA’s initial response to this report can be found at www.pva.org. The full report can be viewed at https://commissiononcare.sites.usa.gov/.