Legislation would allow vets to seek health care outside of VA system

A congressman is pushing legislation that could allow veterans to seek health care outside of the Veterans Affairs system.

A Bay Pines spokesperson estimated 2,400 people attended their annual Veterans Day ceremonies.

Most of the comments from during the event paid tribute to those who gave their lives in service to their country. 

But an important priority for veterans is their health care.

"We are increasing access to care and meeting demand with more hours, more space, more people, more productivity, more accountability, more transparency and more choice" Bay Pines director Suzanne Klinker said.

Jolly thinks their are solutions to the problems that the VA faces when it comes to health care.

"We know the VA acknowledged under oath that its own negligence contributed to the death of veterans" Jolly told FOX 13, citing an audit that estimated as many as 300,000 veterans died while waiting for VA services. 

"My legislation is very simple: It says if you want to stay in the VA, stay in the VA. If you want to go outside, you have complete control to do so" said Jolly.

In 2014, under Congressional mandate, the VA did start issuing cards to let veterans seek "community care" services. 

Veteran John McGuire showed FOX 13 his card and said, "I could go wherever I want because of this card they gave me, and I choose to go here." 

Jolly said that form of opting out has qualifications and requires pre-approval. 

"My legislation completely does away with those qualifications," he said. 

The congressman conceded that most veterans are satisfied VA health care.

"But I would say, until we know we have solved all of the issues within the VA, let's empower the veteran first," Jolly said.