Oklahoma Veterans Speak Out About Proposed VA Plan

Thursday, September 20th 2018, 6:44 pm

Governor Mary Fallin is supporting a plan, backers say, will streamline care for veterans by giving states more authority.

The plan is two years in the making.

Backers say the plan is born out of necessity because veterans are not getting the care they need in a timely and efficient manner.

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Operation Desert Storm Veteran David BeBout struggles with PTSD and a long list of medical problems. But he says, getting help through the VA can be tough.

"And it can get quite frustrating to get people to do their job here. I've been fighting to try to get an MRI here for 20, well 15 years or more now and it just blows me away,” said BeBout.

News 9 was first to tell you about a program to streamline services by allowing states to have a say in contracting out services for vets.

"Looking at changes the needs, the needs of the veterans, how we can do things better to provide access to care to deliver services at a cost efficient meaningful way to help our veterans in Oklahoma,” said Gov. Fallin.

Fallin plans to present the plan and a request for $250 million to implement it, to the state’s congressional delegation and the president.

"Yeah we're going to reach out to the administration and the congressional delegation. They've already had contact with the congressional staff and included them in the committee meetings,” said Gov. Fallin.

If the funding comes through, the program would be administered through the state Department of Veterans Affairs with a list of checks and balances including a review board that meets every month.

"To review the activities of the pilot program and the management of the resources and funds being given. Every three months there will be a legislative oversight committee that reviews the work of the review board,” said Pete Reed with the OK Veterans Pilot Program.

Reed says the program would be also audited twice a year by an outside firm, and once a year by the state auditor. 

The governor stresses, this does not replace the U.S. Veterans Administration, it just improves care to vets.

"It promotes a working partnership between the private healthcare sector, the state and federal healthcare agencies and it's a bipartisan effort with veterans that are included,” said Gov. Fallin.