Veteran Organizations Call on Congress, VA to Reduce Surgical Wait Times in VA Facilities
Voters overwhelmingly support giving veterans direct access to CRNA care in VA Health System
WASHINGTON, DC (July 27, 2022) – Today, Veterans Need Care Now, a grassroots coalition committed to reducing surgical wait times in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, released the results of a new survey of voters and veteran households that found veterans and their families continue to experience critical health care delays at VA facilities. The coalition, comprised of veteran and healthcare provider organizations, is urging the VA to take urgent action to ensure that veterans have timely access to surgical care in the VA healthcare system.
Six years after news reports and court documents first showed veterans were experiencing significant wait times accessing surgeries and other healthcare in the Veterans Health Administration, a national omnibus survey conducted by Veterans Need Care Now has found that more than one in five (23%) of veteran households still report delays in securing VA health appointments and surgical procedures. Of these delays, 13% were viewed as major problems for veterans and their families.
“As a service member for 30 years in the US Navy, I witnessed first-hand the outstanding capabilities and performance of CRNAs as well as the care they deliver, in a wide variety of environments. They should be able to give the same depth and scope of care for our Nation’s veterans,” said Captain Kathryn Beasley, US Navy – Retired.
In 2016, the VA issued a final rule granting three of the four advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) specialties full practice authority, allowing them to practice to the full scope of their education and training, excluding only CRNAs. Since then, reports have continuously highlighted a lack of access to anesthesia services in the VA, which the APRN final rule cited as a reason to revisit the decision to leave CRNAs out. According to the Veterans Need Care Now survey, the vast majority (79%) of voters agree that the VA is not giving veterans the timely, quality care they deserve, with 55% agreeing strongly.
“Today, more than 1,000 CRNAs, many of whom are veterans themselves, serve in the Veterans Health Administration, providing the highest quality care to our nation’s veterans,” said Dina Velocci, DNP, CRNA, APRN, president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology. “Our veterans are enduring dangerously long wait times for anesthesia and other care – much of it due to the chronic underutilization of CRNAs in VA facilities. Veterans simply can’t wait any longer. It’s time for our leaders to act.”
Nationwide, CRNAs deliver more than 49 million anesthetics each year and practice in every setting from hospital emergency rooms to ambulatory surgical centers. CRNAs have historically provided much of the anesthesia to our active-duty military in combat arenas since World War I and predominate in veterans’ hospitals and the U.S. Armed Services, where they enjoy full practice authority in every branch of the military.
About Veterans Need Care Now
VNCN is a national coalition comprised of veterans service organizations and the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology whose mission is to reduce surgical wait times in the Veterans Health Administration and advocate for the urgent health care needs of the nation’s 9 million veterans enrolled in the VA, America’s largest integrated health system.
About the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology
Founded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., the AANA is the professional organization for the nation’s more than 59,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists. The AANA advances patient safety and the CRNA profession through excellence in practice and service to members. As anesthesia professionals, CRNAs safely administer more than 49 million anesthetics to patients each year. Learn more at www.aana.com.