Every day, American men and women put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we hold dear. These fearless warriors volunteer for this duty with the promise that they will receive quality health care for the rest of their lives. That promise is being broken by the US Veterans Health Administration nearly every day.
One example of this is foot and ankle care provided by podiatric physicians and surgeons. Podiatrists provide the vast majority of all foot and ankle care in the nation. Podiatrists keep America walking! But that care is being denied to veterans because the VA can't effectively recruit and retain the best qualified foot and ankle care providers. Care provided by podiatrists is currently the third most outsourced by the VA - that means that if you're a veteran and you have problems with your feet, you are less likely to be able to see a VA podiatric physician or surgeon. This comes at a very high cost to the American taxpayer - every time a patient has to go outside of VA for care, the federal government is on the hook to pay that patient for transportation expenses and to pay the outside provider for the care. And worse yet, the VA Choice act, which permits the VA to send patients to outside providers, establishes that patients seeking care may be referred to an outside provider for a "diagnosis," but what happens when that patient requires treatment? They have to go back to the VA to request another appointment, and then be referred out again - which means another office visit, more transportation costs, and delayed care for the veteran.
There is a solution to this problem. The Department of Veterans Affairs Provider Equity Act, S 2175, is a bill currently before the US Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. This legislation provides the VA with the tools they need to effectively and efficiently recruit and retain the best qualified doctors of podiatric medicine to serve the veterans of the United States. This bill was unanimously passed by the US House in February 2016, after garnering the support of all physician members of the US House VA committee. We need every American voter to reach out to their elected officials to request immediate passage of this legislation! Sign our petition to add your name to our growing list of supporters to urge your US senators to cosponsor and vote for passage of this bill.
We the undersigned citizens/voters strongly believe that our nations veterans should have the right to choose the doctor they want to see for their medical care. Podiatrists (doctors of podiatric medicine, or DPMs) are already defined as physicians in Medicare. When veterans have foot or ankle problems they need access to the best trained, best educated, and most cost effective providers of foot and ankle medical and surgical care, the podiatrist.
We think it is wrong that the VA may deny access to the doctor of choice because they can't keep DPMs on staff. We believe it is time for the VA to recognize doctors of podiatric medicine as the physicians and surgeons that they are.
We hereby petition our elected members of Congress to cosponsor and support the passage of the bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs Provider Equity Act (S. 2175/H.R. 3016).