Calling it a “life or death issue,” Texas Medical Association (TMA) President Austin I. King, MD, is repeating his urgent request for President Barack Obama to take immediate action to enable private physicians to care for U.S. veterans.
For the second time in a month, TMA is seeking an executive order from the president to establish a simple system for non-Veterans Affairs (VA) physicians to care for men and women who served in the American military.
“Mr. President, one month has gone by with no action by your administration and no response from you,” Dr. King said in TMA’s letter to the president. “Each passing day carries the real-life risk of death and avoidable morbidity for the men and women who have served our country so bravely.”
A presidential executive order would open the door for Texas veterans to begin seeing doctors who want to care for them. More than 300 physicians have signed up for TMA’s volunteer registry of doctors willing to see veterans in their offices — despite VA’s reputation among private-sector physicians for bureaucratic problems and uncertain payment. Nearly 1.7 million veterans live in Texas — the second most of any state.
A recent audit of the VA system found “systemic problems” resulting in nearly 60,000 veterans waiting for health care appointments nationwide, and a widespread effort to make wait times appear shorter than they are.
Because of this news, TMA and Florida physicians in June led the American Medical Association to pass policy urging the president to help and calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan, long-term solution to ensure veterans can receive timely health care.
Congress is reportedly working on legislation to solve this issue, though reports indicate August would be the earliest that a bill could reach the president’s desk.