Veterans Organizations Call on VA Congress to Reduce Surgical Wait Times at VA Facilities

Voters overwhelmingly support giving veterans direct access to CRNA care in the VA healthcare system

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Veterans Need Care Now, a grassroots coalition committed to reducing wait times for surgeries at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, released the results of a new survey of veterans voters and households that found veterans and their families continue to experience critical health care delays at VA facilities. The coalition, made up of veterans’ organizations and healthcare providers, urges the VA to take urgent action to ensure veterans have timely access to surgical care in the VA healthcare system .

Six years after news reports and court documents first showed veterans were experiencing significant wait times to access surgical and other care at the Veterans Health Administration, a national omnibus investigation conducted by Veterans Need Care Now found that more than one in five (23%) veteran households still report delays in getting medical appointments and surgeries. Of these delays, 13% were considered major problems for Veterans and their families.

“As a service member for 30 years in the United States Navy, I have witnessed first hand the exceptional capabilities and performance of CRNAs and the care they provide, in a wide variety of environments. They should to be able to provide the same depth and scope of care for our nation’s veterans,” said Captain Kathryn Beasley, US Navy – Retired.

In 2016, the VA released a Final Rule granting three of the four Advanced Practice Registered Nursing (APRN) specialties full practice authority, allowing them to practice within the full scope of their education and training, at the exclusion only of CRNAs. Since then, reports have continually highlighted a lack of access to anesthesia services in the VA, which the APRN Final Rule cited as a reason to reconsider the decision to leave out CRNAs. According to the Veterans Need Care Now survey, the vast majority (79%) of voters agree that the VA does not give veterans the timely, quality care they deserve, with 55% strongly agreeing.

“Today, more than 1,000 CRNAs, many of whom are veterans themselves, serve in the Veterans Health Administration, providing the highest quality care to veterans across our country,” said Dina Velocci, DNP. , CRNA, APRN, President of the AANA. “Our veterans endure dangerously long wait times for anesthesia and other care – largely due to the chronic underutilization of CRNAs in VA facilities. Veterans simply can’t wait any longer. It is time for our leaders to act.”

Nationally, CRNAs dispense more than 49 million anesthetics each year and practice in every setting, from hospital emergency rooms to outpatient surgery centers. CRNAs have historically provided much of the anesthesia to our active duty service members in combat arenas since World War I and are prevalent in veterans hospitals and the United States Armed Forces, where they enjoy full authority practice in all branches of the military.

About Veterans Need Care NowThe VNCN is a national coalition of veterans service organizations and the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology whose mission is to reduce surgical wait times in the Veterans Health Administration and to advocate for the urgent care needs of health of the nation’s 9 million veterans enrolled in the VA, America’s largest integrated health care system. Visit VeteransNeedHealthCareNow.org to learn more.

About the American Association of Nurse AnesthesiologistsFounded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Illinois, the AANA is the professional organization for more than 59,000 certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and student nurse anesthetists. The AANA advances patient safety and the profession of CPN through excellence in practice and service to members. As anesthesia professionals, CRNAs safely administer more than 49 million anesthetics to patients each year. Learn more about www.aana.com.

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SOURCE Veterans need care now

Christine E. Phillips