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H.R. 4352 (114th): Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016

The text of the bill below is as of Jan 8, 2016 (Introduced).


I

114th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4352

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 8, 2016

(for himself and Mrs. McMorris Rodgers) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

A BILL

To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program establishing a patient self-scheduling appointment system, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016.

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

In June 2014 an internal audit conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs found more than 120,000 veterans waited at least 90 days for appointments for medical care or never received appointments.

(2)

One year later, and despite handling more appointments than in previous years, reports indicate that the number of veterans waiting 30 days or more for medical care has increased by 50 percent.

(3)

In 2008, the Inspector General of the Department estimated that 18 percent of outpatient appointment slots went unfilled because of patient no-shows or because facility personnel did not refill canceled appointments.

(4)

Wait times are not unique to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The average wait time in the private sector is more than 18 days, but private sector hospitals and health systems are now leveraging technology to eliminate wait times and ensure every available appointment is used.

(5)

In June 2015 the Institute of Medicine called for a patient-oriented scheduling platform that allows patients to self-schedule care online at any time.

3.

Pilot program establishing a patient self-scheduling appointment system

(a)

Pilot program

Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall commence a pilot program under which veterans use an Internet website to schedule and confirm medical appointments at medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(b)

Selection of locations

The Secretary shall select not less than three Veterans Integrated Services Networks in which to carry out the pilot program under subsection (a).

(c)

Contracts

(1)

Authority

The Secretary shall seek to enter into a contract with one or more contractors to provide the scheduling capability described in subsection (a).

(2)

Notice of competition

Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue a request for proposals for the contract described in paragraph (1). Such request shall be full and open to any contractor that is able to meet the criteria under paragraph (3).

(3)

Selection of vendors

Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall award a contract with one or more contractors that have an existing commercially available online patient self-scheduling capability that—

(A)

allows patients to self-schedule, confirm, and modify outpatient and specialty care appointments in real time through an Internet website;

(B)

makes available, in real time, any appointments that were previously filled but later canceled by other patients; and

(C)

allows patients to use the online scheduling capability 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

(4)

Integration with existing infrastructure

The Secretary shall ensure that a contractor awarded a contract under this section is able to integrate the online scheduling capability of the contractor with the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture of the Department.

(d)

Duration of pilot program

(1)

In general

Except as provided by paragraph (2), the Secretary shall carry out the pilot program under subsection (a) for an 18-month period.

(2)

Extension

The Secretary may extend the duration of the pilot program under subsection (a), and may expand the selection of Veterans Integrated Services Networks under subsection (b), if the Secretary determines that the pilot program is reducing the wait times of veterans seeking medical care and ensuring that more available appointment times are filled.

(e)

Report

Not later than one year after commencing the pilot program under subsection (a), the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report on the outcomes of the pilot program, including—

(1)

whether the pilot program demonstrated—

(A)

improvements to the ability of veterans to schedule medical appointments; and

(B)

a reduction in wait times for such medical appointments; and

(2)

any recommendations of the Secretary for expanding the pilot program to additional Veterans Integrated Services Networks.

(f)

Use of funds otherwise appropriated

No additional funds are authorized to be appropriated to carry out the pilot program under subsection (a) and such pilot program shall be carried out using amounts otherwise made available to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the medical support and compliance account of the Veterans Health Administration.