Apr 23 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tillis (R-NC) sent VA Secretary Robert McDonald a preliminary series of recommendations to apply best business practices to the VA system to make it more efficient and help ensure that veterans are receiving timely and quality care.

Tillis’ recommendations are in-part based on what he has learned as a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, his visits to VA facilities across North Carolina, input he has received from veterans and VA staff, review of the testimony and research of Duke Hospital's Office of Veterans Affairs, and his decades of experience in the private sector consulting complex and bureaucratic organizations.

Earlier this month, Tillis visited VA Medical Centers in Fayetteville, Durham, and Salisbury, where he met with facility leaders to receive updates on wait times and the day to day and long-term challenges facing both veterans and health care providers.

“After visiting VA medical facilities across North Carolina and consulting with veterans and VA staff, it’s clear that we can make the VA system more efficient and improve the delivery of care by implementing commonsense reforms based on sound business principles,” said Senator Tillis. “Fixing such a big and broken bureaucracy of the VA’s magnitude will not be quick, nor easy, but we owe it to the brave men and women who have served our nation to pursue changes that produce optimal care. My commitment to all North Carolinians is to continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in pursuit of solutions that make the VA more efficient and ensure that our veterans have access to the quality health care they need and deserve.”

Senator Tillis’ recommendations to Secretary McDonald include:

  • Significantly overhauling unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, such as the VA’s outdated and burdensome contract system, and giving more flexibility to VA professionals on the ground who best understand the needs of patients.
  • Keeping VA clinics open longer to help treat more veterans. Many VA clinics currently close between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Figures provided by Duke University show that by keeping standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours, an additional five million veterans could be seen by health care professionals across the nation every year. 
  • Addressing recruiting and retention issues for physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
  • Getting new health care providers into the VA system faster by implementing a new credentialing system for VA providers.
  • Exploring the expanded use of urgent care, which the private sector is moving quickly toward.
  • Expanding the use of sharing agreements with academic partners like UNC, Duke, East Carolina and Campbell that will include sharing of excess academic resources with the VA at a fair market value.
  • Encouraging the use of private facilities by VA providers to better meet veterans’ needs, which can often be more cost-effective than simply outsourcing the care through non-VA care service.
  • Improving VA staff morale by allowing providers to take partial leave when they have an issue with a child in school or have to address other family or personal issues.