Texas apparently isn't waiting for the federal government to act on the scandal involving long wait times and denial of care at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics around the country. Governor Rick Perry is proposing a temporary system to allow Texas veterans to access immediate healthcare at a network of providers outside the VA. The governor announced the proposal Thursday during a ceremony at Fort Hood to break ground on a new mental health facility for veterans.
"We've reached out to a number of public and private hospitals, and healthcare networks," said Governor Perry. Those in the proposed network include Houston Methodist and the UT Health System. "With VA approval, these providers can begin treating veterans until this crisis is resolved," said Perry. "It's going to open the door for numerous new options for our veterans to receive care." Governor Perry sent a letter to Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson requesting approval of the program.
In addition, Perry announced Texas is also expanding its Texas Veterans Hotline, which can answer immediate questions and help direct vets to the help they need. "We're expanding (the hotline) with staffers trained to deal with the VA," said Perry. "These staffers will serve as guides to the all-too-confusing and all-too-complicated VA bureaucracy."
Ultimately solving the problem will require action from Congress and the VA, and Gov. Perry understands that. "I remain hopeful and faithful that Congress will in fact do the right thing and do it quickly," said Perry. "But until that happens, this temporary option can help reduce substantial pressure on the veterans."
Watch Governor Perry's full remarks here: