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Perry outlines plan to ease VA medical backlog

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Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 4:30 am

Gov. Rick Perry announced a plan to help Texas veterans get care in a timely manner during an on-post news conference Thursday.

He outlined two specific actions while attending a groundbreaking ceremony for an active-duty medical center at Fort Hood.

The state plans to expand the Texas Veterans hotline, 1-800-252-VETS, with staffers trained to assist veterans with questions about the Veterans Affairs health care system. In extreme cases, he said these staffers will be able to get veterans to a “Texas Veterans Health Care Strike Force.”

“We’re going to help veterans understand their health care benefits and options,” Perry said.

The second course of action is to team up with public and private hospitals across the state to get veterans seen until the VA gets back on track.

“With VA approval, the providers can begin treating veterans until this crisis is resolved. It’s going to open the door for numerous new options for our veterans to receive care,” Perry said.

Baylor Scott & White was one of the health providers he listed as “willing to work with the VA to expand the number of treatment options for veterans waiting in line.”

A spokesman for the Temple-based health care system confirmed officials there are working with the governor’s office on the issue and offered help where they can.

“We already have a relationship with the Central Texas VA system and have been working with them closely,” the official said.

Sallie A. Houser-Hanfelder, director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, also confirmed the VA’s working relationship with private facilities.

“We have been in discussions with Baylor Scott & White on taking on some specialty care,” she said Thursday. “Our acting chief of staff and our (acting chief of staff) for surgery have already had discussions and worked on the arrangements” for outside care of local veterans as needed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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