(Chicago) - Led by the delegations from Texas and Florida, the American Medical Association House of Delegates today called on President Barack Obama to "to take immediate action to provide timely access to health care for veterans utilizing the health care sector outside the Veterans Administration (VA) until the VA can provide health care in a timely manner."
Delegates also asked Congress to "act rapidly to enact a bipartisan, long-term solution" to the excessive delays in care that have been documented within the VA system.
"The problems are complex, they are longstanding, and they're not amenable to a quick fix," said Asa Lockhart, MD, an anesthesiologist from Tyler who took the lead on the issue for the Texas physicians. "The only answer is to ask the president to take some sort of immediate action in order for veterans to seek health care outside of the VA system."
David McKalip, MD, a neurosurgeon from St. Petersburg, FL, exhorted his colleagues in the House of Delegates to step up to the challenge. "American veterans are dying and suffering due to delays in care," he said. "Our AMA should ask for the only action that can fix this now."
TMA President Austin King, MD, who traveled to Chicago for the AMA meeting, added his voice to the chorus calling for immediate action.“Our veterans have stepped up and served our country, so physicians want to be able to step in and serve them,” Dr. King said. “It is tragic that our veterans have been forced to wait for the health care they need and deserve, so Texas physicians and our colleagues across the nation want to help care for them until the VA can right the ship.”
The AMA house also encouraged all physicians to participate, when needed, in the care of veterans, and recommended that state and local medical societies across the country create registries of physicians offering to see veterans and to share that registry with community organizations and local VA officials.
"This is a tragedy that needs to stop," said Massachusetts delegate Mario E. Motta, MD.