Skip to Content
Resize Text:      A A
For information on Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services by clicking here, or the CDC website by clicking here.
Sep 28, 2020

Tester Statement on VA’s Failure to Address Lengthy Process for Community Care Referrals

GAO report finds that VA implementation of Veterans Community Care Program needs improvements to ensure timely access to quality care for veterans

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement today after a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) failed to establish an overall wait time measure for the Veterans Community Care Program—paving the way for veterans to wait an indefinite amount of time before they are connected with care.

“When President Trump signed my legislation to streamline veterans’ access to care in the community into law, it fell to the Administration to ensure the VA MISSION Act was implemented correctly. Unfortunately, the Administration bungled the very health care program designed to provide veterans with timely, quality care by taking too long to get them scheduled for appointments. As Ranking Member, I’m doubling down on my push to ensure that veterans can make an informed choice on where to seek care—whether it’s at Department facilities or in the community. If VA cannot get its house in order, Congress will take action to better ensure that veterans from the Big Apple to Big Sandy can access their earned care in a timely manner.”


In the report, GAO also found that few community providers use VA's new software system to exchange information electronically with VA medical centers, and that only a handful of VA medical centers have the recommended number of staff for the program.

In recent years, VA staff in Montana and elsewhere have struggled with processing both internal and community care referrals, resulting in delayed health care—veterans in Montana wait an average of 44.4 days to receive care in the community. In response to the growing backlog of Montana veterans waiting for health care, Tester introduced the Accountability in VA Scheduling and Consult Management Act, which requires VA to take a hard look at its scheduling protocols and report regularly on how long it is taking to get veterans into the community for care.

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

Home   |   Meet Jon   |   Services   |   Newsroom   |   Legislation   |   Contact   |   Privacy