The U.S. military and the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs are in the midst of a $1 billion pilot program to try to fill more of the 1.3 million vacant positions that have opened up since President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
In a statement Friday, VA Secretary Dr. Karen Pendergraft said she’s excited to work with the Pentagon and Maryland to expand access to care and provide care in a way that respects all veterans.
The program is expected to launch later this year.
PenderGraft also announced plans to create a program that allows VA medical providers to coordinate with their states on the best care options for veterans.
Maryland VA has already opened a new office in Bethesda, Md., and a new facility is scheduled to open in Alexandria, Va., this year, according to the department.
VA Secretary Pendergar said the goal is to have 100 VA facilities in Maryland by 2020.
Pendersgraft added that the VA is also working on a pilot project in Virginia, which she described as a “multi-million dollar endeavor” to expand the VA’s dental care network.
VA officials have been pushing the program for years, and the program has attracted bipartisan support from congressional Democrats.
In May, the VA announced that the program would open two new VA dental offices in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and expand a dental clinic in Washington, DC.
In April, the department said that it would expand dental care to a new dental clinic near Washington, and that more than 100,000 veterans would receive dental care over the next year.
In June, Pendergate said that VA plans to add more than 60 new dental clinics and that it is committed to expanding dental care nationwide.
She said the agency is working to make sure all veterans have access to the dental care they need.
“This is a major step toward our goal of getting all veterans access to health care that is affordable and available, but it’s not the end of the road,” Pendergcse said.
VA plans on opening more than 80 new dental facilities over the coming year, and Penderga said the department plans to open more than 150 more dental clinics in 2018.
Read moreMaryland’s health system is also trying to keep up with the pace of expanding health care.
On Thursday, the state’s health commissioner announced that more VA dental clinics will open across the state in 2018, with another 60 clinics planned for 2019.
The state plans to provide dental care at the new clinics, but Pendergoed said the VA would not be reimbursed by the VA.
“We are not going to be reimbursing the VA,” she said.
Pending the VA approval, Maryland has announced plans for a second VA dental clinic to open near Alexandria.
Pendsgraft told reporters that the second dental clinic would be in a more remote part of the state, and she noted that the first dental clinic opened in the U.K. last year.
The VA’s Office of Patient Care and Advocacy said in a statement that it expects the Maryland VA dental program to be a success and will be “fully funded through FY2019.”
VA officials declined to provide more details about the first VA dental facility, which opened in 2014 in Virginia.