Tester Takes VA to Task for Backlog of Community Care Referrals

Senator Introduces Bill to Reduce Veterans’ Wait Times for Community Care in Montana

(U.S. Senate) – Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Jon Tester is introducing legislation to hold the VA accountable for the amount of time it takes for veterans to see private sector providers.

Following the VA’s failure to address a growing backlog of community care referrals at VA Montana, Tester introduced the Accountability in VA Scheduling and Consult Management Act to streamline the system used to refer veterans to community providers, called “consults.”

“The VA isn’t living up to its responsibility to address the growing backlog of veterans waiting for doctor appointments,” said Tester. “That’s why I am introducing legislation to reform the consult system and hold the VA accountable to the veterans it serves. My bill will give the VA the tools it needs to tackle the backlog of consults and get Montana veterans into local doctors faster.”

Tester’s bill will improve the VA’s ability to hire staff, to process consults, and to strengthen oversight of the VA’s scheduling system for VA doctor appointments. Under Tester’s bill, local VA medical facility leaders can request a mobile deployment team to help when a facility is struggling to address their backlog or to help a facility that is facing a shortage of medical professionals.

Tester’s bill doubles down on his efforts to address the backlog of consults in Montana. At Tester’s request, VA Secretary David Shulkin sent a team of experts to VA Montana to review staffing shortages, improve scheduling and address the backlog of consults.

Tester’s Accountability in VA Scheduling and Consult Management Act is available HERE.