Rep. Roe on helping veterans access community care

 foxnews.com  5/17/2018 10:42:00 PM 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 17, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: With the exception of the so-called crisis hot line, you're a vet, you wait, and you wait a long time still. Is that true?

SCOTT DAVIS, VETERANS ADMINISTRATIONS WHISTLE-BLOWER: That is correct.

And, matter of fact, The Hill did a report on this just in March that VA had been caught sending false reports about wait times.

We know that veterans are still waiting on average longer for care. And this is something that the president talked about fixing when he was running for office.

You institute safeguards to make sure that the billing is appropriate, that the hospital staff is properly making sure each veteran has access to his or her appointment outside the VA network.

CAVUTO: All right.

DAVIS: And that's what we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: All right, Scott Davis, the whistle-blower at the VA, was back with us to say that, despite all the big words and promises to change things, things are not changing. The wait times are still bad for a lot of veterans hoping to get care.

But they do have some progress on the legislative front here.

Tennessee Republican, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee, Phil Roe, with us on that.

Congressman, I know this measure passed that overwhelmingly addresses this issue. It's still potentially in limbo here, and we still don't have someone heading the VA on a full-time basis. We have a lot of candidates.

And if this guy is right, the problems remain. What do you make of that?

REP. PHIL ROE, R-TENNESSEE: Well, the problems aren't solved. There's no question about that.

The VA, Neil, is a huge organization, 370,000 employees, 168 medical centers, 800 outpatient clinics. It's a big organization. But I think it's headed in the right direction.

And what we did yesterday was recognize the fact that folks were having, veterans were having -- as I'm a veteran -- were having difficulty getting appointments. And so we did. We passed a Community Care Act yesterday, which will make it easy when fully implemented.

And it's going to take a year for the new secretary to implement this plan. But the idea for the VA will create access standards. And if the VA can't meet those standards, then the veteran can go outside and -- of the VA.

And we're also doing a network analysis, in other words, going into communities where VA medical centers and assets are, and saying, what is in the private community, what assets, what doctors does the VA have, and then use the best of both to provide the best care for veterans.

CAVUTO: It sounds -- and you're a veteran. And thank you for your service, sir.

But you have seen that giving the VA the opportunity to change its ways hasn't worked. And I'm wondering giving them another chance to get it right, whether that is going to work. Why not this private opportunity available for soldiers right now, and veterans right now, because they have been burned, not once, twice, but many times?

ROE: Yes, Neil, we have a system in the country where we have a shortage of medical providers.

CAVUTO: Right.

ROE: For instance, at the VA -- I was out in Denver not too long ago in their psychiatric area, mental health. They were 60 providers short.

So, when you have a situation like that, you want to use the best of the private sector and the best of the VA sector to provide the highest-quality care for people.

This is not going to be easy. And the new secretary is going to have a big job on their hands, but I'm excited about it. Yesterday was a big, big step forward.

CAVUTO: Do you think we need -- I know a couple of retired generals have been added to the list now close to half-a-dozen candidates.

Do you need someone with military experience like yourself or even a retired general to head the VA?

ROE: Well, we did have a retired general, General Shinseki, back in the first VA secretary under the Obama administration.

CAVUTO: Right.

ROE: It didn't work.

Look, I -- I think you need someone who has administrative experience. For instance, myself, I have had experience in the examining room with a patient. I'm a physician. Been in the military.

And I think you need someone with that level of understanding to be able to operate this huge system. And then I think you're going to have to have a lot of help. It's a huge -- you need very competent undersecretaries to manage this massive organization.

The VA has more employees, Neil, than the U.S. Navy has sailors.

CAVUTO: Amazing. Amazing.

All right, we will watch this.

Congressman, thank you for taking the time.

ROE: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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