The Alabama Medical Association is starting a new registry aimed at getting veterans care while they endure long wait times to see physicians within the VA system.
"At this point the VA has some issues in delivering care to those folks so this is a registry of physicians to help provide that care outside a VA setting," said Niko Corley, the Director of Political Development for the group.
The registry will be opt-in for doctors who want to reach out to veterans to provide care. Corley didn't say what the cost structure would be like and whether veterans or doctors would cover the charges.
The Medical Association has been lobbying Congress, along with other states' associations, to allow VA patients to go to private doctors to receive care.
"Washington can streamline access," Corley said. "Congress can put it in the law to allow these folks to see doctors outside this network and the president can take action on his own to allow that through his VA."
Wait times at Alabama Veterans Administration Hospitals are among the worst in the nation with several facilities that take double the average time for patients to see doctors. In Birmingham it's only a 20-day wait, well below the average. However, in Tuscaloosa it's 29 days.
The hospitals in Montgomery and Tuskegee are nearly double the average of 27-day wait times, with patients waiting an average of 51 days before they can see a doctor.
Corley said he's hopeful that more doctors sign up for the registry over the next few weeks.
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