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Feb 28, 2019

Tester Introduces Bill to Hold VA Accountable for Timely Community Care

Legislation Will Prevent Future Backlog of Community Care

(U.S. Senate) - Ranking Member Jon Tester today introduced a bill to hold the VA accountable for the amount of time it takes to refer veterans to a community health care provider.

With his Accountability in VA Scheduling and Consult Management Act, Tester is doubling down in his efforts to streamline the process for a veteran to see a community provider when that veteran is unable to get care directly from the VA in a timely manner.

"In rural states like Montana, community care fills in the gaps when a VA clinic is too far or a clinic doesn't offer the right service," said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "When a veteran is sent into a community for care, we have to make sure their timely access to care isn't jeopardized by red tape and a backlog of referrals. My bill ensures that this process is more efficient and makes more sense for veterans."

In recent years, VA staff in Montana and elsewhere have struggled with processing both internal and community care referrals, resulting in delayed health care. In response to the growing backlog of Montana veterans waiting for health care, Tester introduced legislation to allow facilities to request a mobile deployment team to help them get back on track. These provisions were signed into law as a part of Tester's VA MISSION Act.

Now, Tester has included a provision in his Accountability in VA Scheduling and Consult Management Act to track how often local facilities are requesting a team and how the VA is deploying them. His bill will also require the VA to clarify its referral processes and improve training so VA staff are better equipped to direct veterans to the best health care option.

Tester's bill will improve the VA's ability to hire staff and process referrals. It will also strengthen oversight of the VA's scheduling of medical appointments by requiring the Department to develop a real-time tracking tool to monitor scheduling at medical facilities and conduct regular audits of scheduling nationwide.

Cosponsors of Tester's bill include Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Text of Tester's Accountability in VA Scheduling and Consult Management Act can be found online HERE.


Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.


Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768


Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647


Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586


208 North Montana Avenue
Suite 104
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462


8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974


130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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