Carrie Farmer Testifies About Veterans’ Access to Care

On September 21, RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute co-director Carrie Farmer testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs about wait times for veterans scheduling health care appointments. Farmer's testimony drew on years of RAND research examining how to improve veterans' access to high-quality care from both Veterans Affairs (VA) and non-VA providers.

Farmer shared insights about the availability of data on wait times at the VA and in other health care systems, noting that the VA is the only U.S. health care system to publicly report its data on wait times, making it difficult to compare timeliness between systems. Farmer pointed out that, what little available data do exist suggest that VA's wait times may be comparable or shorter than wait times at non-VA facilities—and that veterans have shorter wait times for care from a VA facility than from community care providers.

Farmer concluded her testimony with three recommendations for improving available data about the timeliness and quality of VA community care, which could help veterans make better-informed choices about their health care: VA should publicly report wait times for VA community care appointments; VA should make use of existing data to systematically monitor and publicly report the quality of community care; VA should explore contract changes that would facilitate additional information sharing and new data collection about network providers and the quality of care they provide.

Watch an overview of her testimony or read the transcript