City of Phoenix, MIHS pitch partnership to help Valley Vets - CBS46 News

City of Phoenix, MIHS pitch partnership to help Valley Vets

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Right now, there are laws that prevent a veteran from visiting a medical facility outside of the VA system. But if the president signs legislation passed in the house that was co-sponsored by Senator John McCain, veterans will be able to go to a private doctor if wait times at the VA are too long.

The legislation overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Wednesday afternoon is expected to go a long way in fixing the battered VA.

"When the law passes...it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for care for our veterans," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

"We stand ready, willing and able to provide the service," added Steve Purves, President and CEO of the Maricopa Integrated Health System.

Those two entities are pledging to jointly provide a fix to the battered VA.

"No, it's not our immediate jurisdiction," Mayor Stanton said. "But my attitude as mayor is that doesn't matter."

Wednesday, Stanton met with interim VA Director Steve Young. They were joined by Purves whose hospital has something in common with the VA. It's part of the Tri-West provider network.

"We're a provider within that organization," Purves explained. "So there is a mechanism that the VA has to access specialty care that is not readily available within their system."

Mayor Stanton also suggested in a letter to Young that the city could possibly open up community centers or libraries where veterans could speak with case workers in person.

"We want to make sure that we are helping to provide information to the public. We're really good at that," Stanton added. "We may organize an event in which we bring together healthcare providers and the veteran community."

But there may be some challenges associated with giving veterans more access to care. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that legislation could cost the federal government an additional $50 billion a year.

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