Columbia St. Mary's has entered into an agreement to treat qualified U.S. veterans who have to wait more than 30 days or travel farther than 40 miles from their home to get treatment from a Veterans Affairs, VA, Medical Center.
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Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee.[/caption]
The program began in 2014 as part of the federal Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which allocated $10 billion to pay private health care providers to treat veterans. The act was passed in response to reports that at least 40 U.S. armed forces veterans had died while waiting for care at VA facilities in Phoenix, Ariz.
Columbia St. Mary's, a part of Ascension Health, will join hospital systems in 23 states and the District of Columbia that are considered official Veterans Choice Program providers.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be able to provide these services to our military veterans,” said Travis Andersen, president and chief executive officer of Columbia St. Mary’s. “Columbia St. Mary’s caregivers are called to sustain and improve the health of individuals and our communities. Through the Veterans Choice Program, we will work to expand the number of health care options for our nation’s veterans, ensuring timely access to quality care.”
The program has limited funding, and will end when its resources are exhausted, which the hospital estimated would be no later than Aug. 7, 2017, according to a statement released Friday morning.