Congressional Briefing - February 18, 2016

Meeting the Health Care Needs of America's Veterans: A Summary of Three RAND Assessments Conducted Under the Veterans Choice Act

Service members involved in physical therapy at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio wait for President Bush to visit

Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP


Thursday, February 18, 2016


12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.


B-338 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.


About the Program

The mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system is to meet the health needs of eligible U.S. veterans. In response to concerns about veterans' access to care and the quality of care delivered, Congress enacted the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 ("Veterans Choice Act"). The law called for a series of independent assessments of the VA health care system across a broad array of topics related to the delivery of health care services to veterans in VA-owned and VA-operated facilities, as well as those under contract to VA.

A team of RAND researchers led by Carrie Farmer and Sue Hosek conducted three of the Veterans Choice Act assessments. In this briefing, Farmer and Hosek discuss RAND's findings and recommendations including

  • The changing demographics and health needs of the veteran population
  • VA's capacity to deliver health care and how this might impact veterans' access
  • VA's current purchased care authorities and what policymakers should consider when examining changes to those authorities
  • Steps policymakers can take to progress toward the goal of providing high-quality, timely, and accessible health care that meets veterans' needs

About the Speakers

Carrie Farmer is a senior policy researcher and associate director for the Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department at the RAND Corporation. Her areas of interest include military and veterans health policy; psychological effects of combat; and the quality of mental health care. She has led multiple studies to examine the accessibility and quality of health care delivered to veterans and service members.

Farmer has also conducted evaluations of large federally funded public health and mental health programs, analyses of mental health care quality in a variety of populations, and development of metrics to assess the quality and effectiveness of health services and programs. She holds a Ph.D. in health policy from Harvard University.

Susan D. Hosek is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation. Her research has ranged widely, including issues such as veterans health care, physical standards for military occupations, TRICARE benefits, disability benefits for military personnel, sharing of electronic health information, and the organization and management of the military health care system.

She served as research director of the 2007 President's Commission on Caring for America's Returning Wounded Warriors and was a member of the 2001-2003 President's Task Force to Improve Health Care Delivery for Our Nation's Veterans. Hosek received her B.A. in economics from Cornell University and her M.A. and A.B.D. in economics from Northwestern University.

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