South Texas Veterans Health Care System statement

Following is a statement from South Texas Veterans Health Care System regarding Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz amendment that requires VA Plan to reduce wait times at San Antonio VA:

South Texas Veterans Health Care System is committed to providing veterans with the quality and timely healthcare they have earned and deserve and is continuously evaluating possible solutions to improve on their wait times.

VA measures access prospectively and retrospectively. The prospective access measure identifies wait times based on current appointments scheduled from today and into the future. The prospective data is designed to represent a snapshot in time, and only forecasts the access conditions at the facility. This data provides the opportunity to recognize irregular trends and to adjust the operating rhythm of the facility to meet the coming patient workload.  As of November 1st, 78.46 percent of STX patients were scheduled to be seen within 30 days of the clinically indicated date (CID); nationally 91. 86 percent of patients were scheduled to be seen within 30 days of CID. The retrospective measure identifies the percent of Veterans who were seen (completed appointments) based on the 30day wait time measure. As of September 30th, 94.21 percent of STX patients were seen within 30 days of the CID; nationally 96.7 percent of patients were seen within 30 days of the CID.

Currently STX is utilizing the following strategies to improve our access: continuing to use Choice and VA Purchased Care in the Community, VA/DoD Sharing Agreements, internal optimization of space, equipment, personnel and expedited hiring, as well as continuing and expanding evening and weekend clinics. This Saturday, Nov 14th, STX will take part in the national VHA Access Stand down event where primary care, mental health and specialty providers will see patients at ALMD campus. The intention of this event is to increase capacity and improve our overall access as expeditiously as possible.

The statement below regarding the requirement that a Veteran must see a VA doctor before they are allowed to seek healthcare elsewhere is not accurate. In order to be eligible for one of the Choice sub-programs, a Veteran has to be scheduled (not seen) for a VA appointment with a wait greater than 30 days from the CID. If the wait is greater than 30 days, then the Veteran can make an earlier appointment in the community, without having been seen at the VA. If the Veteran elects to receive their care in the community, the VA appointment is cancelled and used for another Veteran.