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According to Federal Officials, Maryland is One of the Worst States for Veteran Affairs

54705235_Subscription_SAccording to federal officials, the medical system for Maryland’s veterans is one of the worst in the nation, prompting the agency to seek options for routing veterans to private physicians amid a primary-care backlog. Veteran healthcare made the headlines multiple times this summer as the Department of Veterans Affairs was forced to reveal its startling backups in providing healthcare, as well as the measures some took to cover up the delays.

The Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System is hoping to connect with private clinics in the area and shuttle off some of their patients to any clinics that have time to take them. Veterans are currently waiting months, in most cases, in order to schedule simply an initial visit with a primary-care physician. 

The move is part of a larger effort by Congress to break down the delays within the system. On Monday, both parties agreed to spend $17 billion in order to expand the traditional VA system to accommodate more veterans, and to cut down the long wait times many are currently experiencing. 

“Funding for veterans’ needs must be considered a cost of war,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and who backed the $17 billion measure to overhaul the VA’s current practices.

Last month, an audit of Maryland’s services for veterans revealed that the average wait time to see a primary-care doctor for the first time was 80 days — this is the fourth-longest recorded wait in the country. Since then, Dr. Amit Khosla, who works for the VA system in Maryland, says that the average wait time has fallen to 76 days.

During a town hall meeting later in the week, reactions from various veterans were mixed. Many felt that the measure was an important one and would help to provide temporary relief. Most, though, would rather see the VA providing for veterans’ needs, rather than outside organizations.

“We are not an advocate of outsourcing VA health care,” said Verna Jones, the American Legion’s national director for veterans affairs and rehabilitation. There’s no one reason for the long waits — studies show that U.S. doctors spend about eight hours per week on paperwork alone — but hopefully, disabled veteran benefits will start to experience better access soon.

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