About 1,200 Missouri veterans report steady progress in the quality of care they have received at the state’s Veterans Administration hospitals. During a stop in St. Louis, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, says it pleases her to hear about the improvements described in her annual survey results of the state’s five VA medical centers.
“There’s a different culture today than there was when I began this work back in 2010,” she says. “The people are friendly. People are outgoing. You can tell that they are serving with the kind of attitude that is respectful to veterans.”
McCaskill began offering the surveys after reports surfaced of medical care problems at the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis. For several years, the facility has battled to keep someone at the top in a long-term capacity.
Another improved point in the survey shows an estimated 64% of Missouri veterans report they would recommend to other veterans going to a state VA hospital they’ve received care from.
“Veterans first love their country and their family and then they love veterans. They want their fellow veterans to get the very best,” McCaskill says. “We always look at one of the most important indicators of whether or not we are doing well with veterans healthcare is will a veteran recommend it to another veteran.”
Missouri has hundreds of thousands of veterans. The five VA hospitals included in the survey include ones in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, southeast Missouri’s Poplar Bluff and Fayetteville, AR.
McCaskill says she is seeing a “real issue” with complaints about the Veterans Choice program. The recently-created plan was established to serve veterans who live further away from a VA hospital or cannot see a specialty doctor within a reasonable amount of time. It reimburses patients for instead using private healthcare services. McCaskill wants future surveys to include feedback from veterans who use this program.
McCaskill goes on to say she does not want to give up on the Veterans Administration system and will fight to improve the current structure. She says she opposes President Donald Trump’s efforts to privatize the entire organization.
“Blowing up the veterans system to throw every veteran out into the waters of the healthcare delivery system that is so dysfunctional right now is not the way to go,” she says. “I think it’s fine to make it a choice, especially since they are having to wait for appointments. Most veterans in this state want their own system, they appreciate their own system and they support their own system.”
To see the survey results, click below.