September 02, 2016

Tester and Kilmer Push to Increase Veterans’ Access to Care, Save Taxpayers Money

Senator Jon Tester and Representative Derek Kilmer are pushing to increase veterans’ access to care and save taxpayers money by establishing a Veterans Affairs (VA) Nurse Call Center.

In a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald, Tester and Kilmer urged the VA to establish a Nurse Call Center for veterans to contact if they are uncertain they are experiencing a medical emergency.  A similar hotline has already been established by the Defense Department and has redirected thousands of patients to more appropriate and affordable care.

“We commend your continued commitment to improving access to exceptional services for rural veterans, and urge the VA to move forward on implementing a Nurse Advice line based on the TRICARE model,” Tester and Kilmer wrote.  “Such an initiative could help expedite the scheduling process for rural veterans and improve the access to care they have earned.”

The Defense Department’s TRICARE Nurse Advice Line is available to the millions of TRICARE beneficiaries and active duty service members.  When a patient contacts the TRICARE hotline they are given clinical recommendations for the type of care they should seek.

It is estimated that 73 percent of callers using the TRICARE hotline are redirected to a more appropriate and less costly level of care than they initially intended, which is saving taxpayers up to $90 per call.

Tester and Kilmer emphasized that the VA’s Nurse Call Center is another opportunity to better target rural areas where a high number of veterans live a long distance from the closest medical provider, and the VA is experiencing the most significant medical professional shortages.

Tester and Kilmer’s letter to Secretary McDonald is available HERE.