Kaine pledges continued support of Hampton VAMC

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Senator Tim Kaine says he’s impressed with the progress on wait times at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Now, he’ll work on larger problems to keep improving access to health care for veterans in the region.

Kaine toured the hospital Monday morning with Hampton VAMC senior management.

“That’s a significant amount of work that’s being done to expand access,” Kaine said, commenting on the hospital’s improvement in wait times for primary care over the past six months.

“We’ve seen that number come down very, very dramatically from about 30 days. Now it’s right around the national average of 6 or 7 days.”

But in order for Hampton to maintain the progress already made, Kaine wants to address larger-scale problems. He said there’s confusion over how private providers fit into how the VA manages health care.

When the new CHOICE program was added last November, the old program, known as Non-VA Care, remained in place.

“That creates a system that’s fairly confusing, if you’re a hospital administrator,” Kaine said. “But it’s really confusing if you’re a veteran. When you say, ‘I live more than 40 miles away, I should be able to go to a private doctor.’”

Kaine said he will work on ways that would streamline that duplication.

Another problem Kaine sees is credentialing doctors — even if they’re already working at other military hospitals.

“I think there are probably some things that could be smoothed out, with the credentialing and privileging process to make it as easy and seamless as possible for us to work with our DoD partners,” said Hampton VAMC Director Michael Dunfee.

“[Hampton VAMC] has to put the doctors through a fairly rigorous and elaborate qualification process to work here, even though they’ve already been qualified for a DoD hospital,” Kaine said. “It just doesn’t make that much sense.”

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