President Obama traveled to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, today, where he signed House Resolution (H.R.) 3230, titled the Veterans Access to Care Act of 2014, into law.
Included in this law are key provisions from H.R. 3408, the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights, involving private contracting. The private contracting provision in the law is far broader than the provision in H.R. 3408 and applies to more than just O&P practitioners, but the concept is the same, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP). The provision is designed to address the long waiting times for care that led to numerous deaths of veterans in the recent past.
The private contracting provision applies to physicians, hospitals, and other providers, including orthotists and prosthetists. The new law requires the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to permit access to private practitioners when veterans cannot receive an appointment within 30 days or if they live more than 40 miles away from the nearest VA facility, in this case, the nearest VA O&P clinic. There are also specific provisions for those in highly rural areas. In order for a veteran to gain access to a private O&P practitioner, the practitioner must participate in the Medicare program, must agree to accept Medicare rates, and must retain all the licenses and credentials that Medicare requires.