WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) reintroduced the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act to give veterans more flexibility when making medical decisions and greater access to the free-market health care system. The bill would expand treatment options for veterans by taking the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) out of the community care referral process and creating a three-year pilot program that allows veterans to schedule necessary appointments at medical facilities in the VA’s network.
“Our veterans should be able to see a doctor as quickly and easily as possible,” said Senator Tuberville.“Streamlining the VA community care program is a commonsense way we can increase access to care and cut through red tape. By eliminating the community care referral process altogether, this bill accomplishes that goal and makes life easier for those who have served.”
The Veterans Health Care Freedom Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Mike Rounds (R-SD).
This legislation is another targeted change to improve care and benefits for veterans, following Senator Tuberville’s Supporting Families of the Fallen Act and legislation to streamline Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, both of which were signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.
The Veterans Health Care Freedom Act would:
- Create a three-year pilot program within the VA Center for Innovation Care and Payment to improve veterans’ access to health care in the free market.
- Require that the pilot program be carried out in at least four Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISN).
- Improve access to free market health care by allowing veterans to access primary, specialty, and mental health care outside of their corresponding VISN and at non-VA facilities.
- Require the VA to give veterans information about eligibility, cost sharing, treatments, and providers so that they are able to make informed decisions with respect to selection of primary and specialty care providers and other available treatments.
- Make the pilot program permanent nationwide four years after enactment of the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act.
- Require the VA to submit reports to House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees on the implementation and results of the pilot program, as well as the final design.
- Fund the pilot program using appropriations otherwise made available to the Veterans Health Administration.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.