12.04.21

Rounds Questions VA Secretary McDonough on Implementation of MISSION Act

Says Referral Care Initiative limiting Veteran’s healthcare options

WASHINGTON —U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) released the following statement after a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) hearing on Wednesday where he questioned VA Secretary Denis McDonough on claims the VA’s Care In The Community administrators are purposely limiting a Veteran’s ability to seek care from a local healthcare provider.

“The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is changing its existing referral process by implementing the Referral Coordination Initiative (RCI). According to the VHA’s RCI guidebook, this initiative “shifts the referral responsibility from providers to Referral Coordination Teams (RCTs) which include clinical and administrative staff.” said Rounds.

A recent USA Today news investigation published on November 1, 2021, shows a disturbing trend of VA administrators overruling decisions made between veterans and their providers to seek care in the community. The article states: “A review of thousands of pages of department manuals and medical records, along with interviews with dozens of patients, advocates and providers, shows that VA administrators are overruling doctors’ judgments and preventing them from sending their patients outside the VA health care system.”

“I think it goes back down to dollars and cents,” said Rounds. “I have concerns that these examples are not isolated and that they could be the result of the implementation of the RCI in a way that diminishes a veteran’s ability to receive care from a local healthcare provider.”

To watch the full exchange, please visit: https://youtu.be/x9P6szNOJHE

If you or a family member are being restricted by the VA from using the Care in the Community Benefit you’ve earned, please contact one of our local offices. We can be reached toll free at 844-875-5268 or by sending an email through our website rounds.senate.gov.

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