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New legislation to help local veterans

Veterans will be able to seek private sector health care in the Tennessee Valley once new legislation is complete.

Posted: Jun 7, 2018 6:38 PM
Updated: Jun 7, 2018 7:25 PM

Veterans seeking health care in the Tennessee Valley could see some new options-- thanks to new legislation signed by the president allowing access for vets in the private sector. Waay 31 spoke to local veterans and learned how this will impact them in the future.

"This will help them to get treatment right away instead of waiting months..Maybe a year."

Raymond Kidd is a patient at the local VA Clinic and tells me he thinks this new legislation will be a huge help in an area like Huntsville-- where there's a large population of veterans all competing for the same space in a doctor's office. But this bill isn't a replacement of the current VA's targeted at veterans who may not have a VA Clinic nearby.

Veterans Service Officer, Richard Epps tells WAAY 31, the VA is not replacing the Federal VA Healthcare Program, it is instead augmenting it to allow veterans who don't have rapid access to a VA facility to use private doctors.

Something Kidd tells WAAY 31 is also more cost efficient and helps those with disabilities.

"If it's local where they can see a physician like myself, only maybe a half mile away. That cuts down on transportation and also on limitations of those with a disability so instead of traveling so far, they can go right down the street."

However-- veterans in Huntsville and other parts of the Tennessee Valley could wait a while before seeing this legislation come to life.

"When the president signs any type of legislation like that, it actually goes into the department of veteran's affairs and becomes policy, once the policy is pushed down into the regional offices, in the state of alabama the regional office is in montgomery, and then as a regional office we'll get the information as to how we're going to execute."

Epps tells WAAY 31 the process can take anywhere from 90 days to 1 year.

Some of the criteria for a veteran to be considered for private health care access would be wait times for v-a appointments, quality of v-a care and distance from a VA facility.

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