Announcing a Rio Grande Valley Integrated Veterans Health Care System

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Mega Doctor News

McALLEN –  Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announces a transformative healthcare delivery initiative for our Rio Grande Valley veterans in collaboration with State Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr.

No doubt a critical need in the Rio Grande Valley, our region is home to over 48,000 veterans, thousands of whom are going without much-needed health and mental services. Several months ago, Rep. Muñoz developed a proposal and has been working towards a plan to develop legislation to see this vision come to fruition.

The goal is to create a system of care based in the UTRGV medical school, but spread throughout our communities in the Valley, that shares costs and resources for the benefit of all veterans.  Another priority is to eliminate the access to care problems we have in the Valley by providing an increased level of inpatient and outpatient care so there is no longer a need to drive to San Antonio or Houston for healthcare, and by reducing the wait time for care. 

“A partnership and coordination among our UTRGV medical school, our federal VA partners, academia, and the private sector will enhance access to medical services for all of our Valley veterans.  We are working towards this goal and I applaud Rep. Sergio Muñoz for his leadership and commitment to this initiative,” stated Senator Hinojosa.

Rep. Muñoz and his staff have been working with my office and coordinating various meetings among key stakeholders. We have created a work group tasked with exploring and researching the possibilities of a new approach to veteran’s care in the Valley that would leverage both federal and state funds while the medical school would serve as the epicenter for the integrated system of care.

Our work group has consisted of the UTRGV Medical School Dean and representatives, representatives from UT Health Science Center San Antonio, Texas A&M Health Science Center, the Texas Veterans Commission, the Health and Human Services Commission Veterans Services Division, our federal VA partners in the Valley, our Valley congressional offices, and various veterans leaders in our community

As a result, a substantive plan has been formed, some of which will require legislation that our office intends to file in the upcoming session beginning January 2015.  We need to ensure that the Dept. of Veterans Affairs has the authorization to contract with state entities, such as UTRGV, to provide healthcare to veterans who are eligible to receive services. The VA is allowed to contract with state entities when federal facilities are not capable of furnishing hospital care because of geographical inaccessibility or have not been able to serve the needs of the community. This will be critical in accessing federal funds for services. In addition, there are already state funds appropriated for mental health and other disabilities for veterans that we hope to leverage through the budget process this session.

“While there is still much work to be done, our legislative delegation is successfully moving in the right direction.  We need to do better to improve the well-being and mental health of all our veterans and their families,” concluded Senator Hinojosa.