Legislation was introduced last week that would increase access to care for our nations’ veterans and would also reform the Veterans Affairs hiring process to make it easier to fill staffing shortages at the agency. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner introduced The Veterans Improved Access and Care Act following a damaging report from the VA Inspector General, which revealed secret wait lists at a number of Colorado VA facilities. Under the current law, a veteran can see a medical professional outside the VA system if they have to wait longer than 30 days for an appointment or live more than 40 miles away from a VA facility. The bill would change the current legislation to give veteran’s full access to private and local medical care regardless of their situation or location, by allowing veterans to see the doctor they choose, preventing them from be hamstrung by the VA bureaucracy. The legislation also looks to fix the VA’s hiring process, which can take up to 4-8 months to fill a position. The new legislation would allow the VA to establish a pilot program to expedite the hiring of licensed medical professionals in locations where there are shortages of available specialists. The bill also requires the VA Secretary to submit a report detailing a strategy on how to reduce the length of the VA’s hiring process by half for licensed medical professionals. Gardner says the VA Secretary needs to take meaningful action to reform the hiring process and make sure facilities are able to hire the medical professionals needed to serve our veterans.