VA implements the first of several Veterans Choice Program eligibility expansions

Effective immediately all enrolled Veterans may now be eligible to participate.


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Public Law 114-41, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015, was signed into law on July 31, 2015, and aims to “provide resource flexibility to the Department of Veterans Affairs for health care services and other purposes.” Thanks to the new law, VA is able to enhance the Veterans Choice Program in a number of ways, including expanding eligibility to all enrolled Veterans.

The department will implement these changes in several phases, with the first phase being effective immediately. Veterans are no longer required to have been enrolled in VA health care on or before August 1, 2014, in order to meet basic eligibility requirements for the program. If a Veteran is enrolled in the VA health care system and meets one of the specific eligibility criteria, he/she may be eligible for the program. In other words, any Veteran who is enrolled in VA health care, regardless to when they enrolled, may now be eligible for the Veterans Choice Program.

Along with being enrolled in VA health care, Veterans must meet at least one of the additional wait times, distance or other criteria in order to be considered eligible for the Veterans Choice Program. You can find additional details on the full eligibility criteria here. This modification, and the additional changes that will follow in the upcoming months, serve a critical purpose of allowing greater numbers of Veterans access to care under this Program. VA is continually working to make improvements to the Veterans Choice Program, so please check www.va.gov/opa/choiceact periodically for the latest updates. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Veterans and our partners to ensure continued improvements to Veterans’ access to care.

For more details about the Veterans Choice Program, see www.va.gov/opa/choiceact.


About the author:  Kristin Cunningham is director of business policy for the Veterans Health Administration’s Chief Business Office.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. gary rance    

    so because there is a lab 20 miles away I have to drive 3.5 hours for any sort of service, sounds like the usual VA drivel

    1. Doug Monk    

      what good is this ? just more vets getting told they don’t qualify. the wayx.ga. is within radius but to see a dr. I have a 2 1/2 or 3 hr. drive 1 way.WHAT A WASTE

      1. Charles L. Watson    

        Received notice I could use the Choice Program in three to five days after the letter came. Waited four days with a broken ear drum and infection then called. I gave them all the information and they stated they would context a provider in my area, which could take a few days. Five days later I called back and they informed me that they never received my records from the VA. I called and made my own appointment with a provider on their list, then called them back and was told the VA. would cover my expenses for this is not the way it is done in the Choice Program. I’m going to need an MRI, then a ear operation. Love the VA. and the NO CHOICE PROGRAM. Charles Watson.

        1. Charles L. Watson    

          I meant to say they would not cover my expenses because I made the appointment and they didn’t.

      2. William E. Batker    

        The payment for services is low and equal to Medicare, no office I or the program tech could find within 69 mile radius from my home! I have been directed by my VA pain management Doctor to start Accupunture and Massage Therapy but yet again no takers on the low, slow payments! I am thoroughly Disappointed in the lies being published touting this program as a help!

        1. Trey Lawler    

          The VA (on purpose / intentionally) put the wrong phone number on the Veterans Choice Cards. When I call the new [supposedly] phone number that the ROI folks gave me it goes to a voice mail of a Dr. that no longer works at the VA. One of the VA employees that was retiring this last week told me that they are trained to “legally” lie to Veterans about their healthcare. When you call the VA they ask you for your birthday and full SS# but will not identify themselves with their names and/or operator number, stating that it is against some HIPPA law. I am writing my congressman, senator and state representative for some peace of mind. It probably won’t help me but it can help the other Veterans that are just getting lied to by a corrupt system. Peace

    2. Benjamin Prestbury    

      I am totally against the VA providing and using a system of selective distribution of services and resources of any kind.

      Being a veteran, who did not serve in combat or get wounded superficially or seriously, I, along with the millions of other Veterans like me, should not be restricted in regard to any type of medical need that we may have, or need, regardless of how far away we are from a VA health center.

      I no longer can do the work that I have done for the past several decades because I can not afford another health plan that would give me limited dental care. I am an actor who can no longer perform on stage or in front of a camera because my mouth is in a total state of disarray. Loose teeth and other issues in my mouth make me far less of a candidate for a job yet this is not enough to have a complete dental plan without having to buy additional insurance from one or two dentists that were recommended to me by the VA. If I could afford another health provider, this would be a mute subject at this moment. Since I can’t afford another health provider, I bring this issue to the table.

      My primary care doctor is so cluttered with patients that I have waited for him to schedule me for a 6 to 8 month check up that he promised back in August of last year. Because I do not live 30 to 40 miles away from a center, I can not get a hospital that is a 5 minute drive from where I live to serve as an alternate medical center and health adviser. Selective distribution of services and resources such as certain pieces of equipment that would allow me (and others like me) to check my health to make sure that no unnoticed issues are lurking about within my body.

      There needs to be major shift in services and resources that allow all veterans to receive the same services and resources alike.

      1. J. Tennant    

        You are lucky to get an answer if you call. They say leave a number but no one EVER calls back! My clinic Dr is absolutely useless and the ones at the hospital 80 miles away are just as bad. My urologist sees me every 6 months for a whole 2.5 to 3 minutes per visit and has never examined me.

    3. Rick Strul    

      This program is a SCAM! It is nothing more than window dressing for the administration to claim they are doing something when all they are doing is harm! I cannot get surgical service close to home because a clinic, which does not perform surgery, is nearby! These people will interpret you out of the program and refuse service under it every time. They purposefully create barriers to communication and service. Their proven motto is truly, “the only good vet is a dead vet.” Why is that? They have stolen the money to provide for their promises to spend on other things — themselves and their upper class medical and retirement plans. When you have unfunded obligations, wouldn’t the smart thing to do be to get rid of the people to whom you owe the obligations? This administration is doing that across the board! They are killing US and our country. It is deliberate!

    4. babs    

      Va choice prog is a joke, I am a svc connected navy vet, enreolled in choice prog, HAVE ISSUES GETTING APPTS OR INNSYSTEM, NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE HECK THEY ARE DOING, THEY SAY, CALL THIS NUMBER ORMTHIS NUMBER, A SERIOUS JOKE OF A PROG, WHY MESS WITH SOMETHING THAT USED TO WORK?

    5. Arthur Maynard    

      Well I am a combat vet and one more time I have Cancer! This makes 3 and I am waiting 90 days in between ct and a Doctor that could give a crap! The first time it took the VA 9 months to be convince that I had colon Cancer and a year for the testicle cancer? Now it’s in my lungs and it’s been 10 months so far and yes I was in Vietnam and yes I was exposed to Agent Orange! You know I feel the VA does try very hard to help Vets, there are just so many of us and more every year. Hey I have a idea lets quick going to War for awhile so the VA could catch up?

    6. KERRY WOODARD    

      Based on the article released October 1, you do not need to be on the system prior to August 2014. It states that if you are in the system, your are eligible to get the Veteran’s Choice card and exercise the benefit if you meet criteria.

      The local clinic offers an old printout of the plan that says the reverse; that you need to have been in the system prior to August, 2014 in order to be eligible. The PDF on the program attached to the article that states there is no longer a date limitation, states that there is!

      Would be helpful to notify the VA clinics and hospitals which position is true. Would be helpful to the veteran as well.

    7. Donna    

      The usual is correct. I wait 12 months for my lab results and don’t qualify for “civilian” care because I haven’t been in for 2 years.

    8. H.Thompson    

      I know my 2 cents isnt going to matter as like everyone else here i have been fighting with VA for some years now. To get to my two cents in now i moved to Tn about 18 months ago from Lexington , Ky . Closet Va is Johnson City and its 120 miles from where i live .I just knew i was gonna get better treatment here but wrong. I went in in June as i have a torn Acl annd Pcl and had to go through all the garbage of a xray first so i can have mri as ortho ad primary dr both confirmed they were torn but need exact spot so they know where to do surgery. Well here it is Oct and still no mri and have been on waiting list this long and mri is on 21st of this month. I called choice to see if i cant get an mri sooner and they denied me . I cant walk and you can see bone sticking outside of knee. The pain is excruciating and is beynd anything i have had to encounter beside breakkng back!! I am dead serious when i say i have to crawl to commode and i cant do anything . What kind of hospital or dr would make you wait over 3 months in this kind of shape. I dont understand but this is our government at its best!!!

    9. Calvin Jones    

      I was referred to the Veterans Choice (VC) program twice for pain management. The first time they sent me to physical therapy. The latest was in July 2015. Two months later, I still did not have an appointment. I went back to the Salisbury VA who initially referred me and explained this VC was not working and my way of life was greatly impacted due to no treatment. Salisbury came back and stated, we can send you to a clinic in Stanly County. I got an appointment within a week, what good is the VC program? I think that money can be better spent elsewhere.

    10. Sherri    

      To all you haters…Do you realize the VA Healthcare system is the largest healthcare system in this country. Some of the best treatments and research are available at the VA. It is not a perfect system. It services more people than any other healthcare system. The Choice program is an attempt to provide better access to healthcare quicker. Why don’t some of you make positive suggestions about how to improve it, rather than complaining about the care you receive

    11. Rickb    

      This just isn’t so…. I have had appointments for primary care at the Temple Texas VA scheduled twice in the last 45 days and both times they were canceled….. More hype for a program that was never intended to do what the Congress claimed they wanted to do.

    12. Jones, David    

      I’m 100% plus Disabled Vietnam Veteran.

      This last week I was advised by VA Dr. I needed to see Foot Dr. & current eye exam.
      Couple days later I was contacted by VA for foot exam at Phoenix VA in a couple weeks, ‘185 miles’ away each way.

      I advised them I was 100% and had a Choice Card and wanted to see Dr. hear.
      I was advised he would submit the request but it would have to be scheduled more than 30 days out to qualify. I said it is 185 miles each way and isn’t there a 40 mile away rule also….

      He ignored my statement/question and my appointment is now in December 2015.

      I want the choice to go to a private health carrier, the VA is garbage and Congress is never going to do a thing to clean it up too many political appointees.

      Dave Jones USMC

  2. John Swisher    

    This will be a great benefit if the proper for application ever get to the people who need them.

  3. Danny Ray Sain    

    This VA Choice program has been more upsetting hassles for me than better care from outside the VAMC!

    1. Alan Koss    

      I agree that I was better off with the old VA care. God forbid if you try to find any info about an upcoming appointment or procedure. If you call and try to sort things out you may have to talk to three different people that do not know anything about your problem and couldnot care less!

      1. J. Tennant    

        You are lucky to get an answer if you call. They say leave a number but no one EVER calls back! My clinic Dr is absolutely useless and the ones at the hospital 80 miles away are just as bad. My urologist sees me every 6 months for a whole 2.5 to 3 minutes per visit and has never examined me.

  4. Steve Kaldi    

    I have insomnia issue, for some time, PTSD related and the local VA is somewhat helpful however no solutions and the CARE program couldn’t care less !

    1. Michael Devoud    

      I know what your going through, I have been going through the same. I am wondering if we will ever get the right help from the regional offices. I know Waco, Texas likes to turn everyone down.

  5. David Hall Sr    

    The Choice program is sick joke being played on us veterans it takes longer to get an appointment through them then going to a VA Dr. and then they limit what the outside Dr. can do and limit the number of visits + my assigned Dr. was 45 Miles away.

    1. Daniel Riley    

      If you got an appointment you are one up on me. Been Approved from February but am still having to drive to VA to see anyone. The program is just another hollow promise from the VA. To top it off they have implemented a 6 month period between appointment but you can only get them 3 months in advance. So you get to wait 3 month to get the appoint then it takes 6 months to get back in. The thing I don’t understand if they are so far behind why is the office at the CBOC always empty. I hope all the ones that think Affordable Care act is good understand what they are going to get. Unqualified people using a Government play book for your care. Just try this new pill that someone is getting kick backs to push. Took one Med for 10 years 10 mg one time a day and never had a problem. Now it is not available though the VA. Been on 4 others Diabetes is out of control and still waiting to get back in because the timer is not up. Sub standard is not even close to what a VET gets. I guess I should have been a criminal instead of a VET food, housing, and the best healthcare money can buy. Plus you never have to worry about get to an appointment or paying a bill.

  6. Steve Fletcher    

    David is correct. First of all, I don’t see VA Doctors. I see PA’s. When I went in to get a colonoscopy consult, which I have many times before, I’m told a month later, by a local VA scheduler, that a third party is involved. What??? So I get the third parties number and give them a call. First I got the third degree about the distance of the facility where my prior procedures were done. Then they asked if the Doctor did not accept Veteran’s Choice payment, would I consider going somewhere else. I’ve only had six procedures done by my current gastro doc and the VA paid for all of them. I said no I would not accept another doc because my doc knows my insides and what’s going on in there. She says, “OK, you will be contacted in 3 to 5 business days. I’m on day 7 and I’m hearing crickets. They took a working Black Hills VA system and totally screwed it up.

    1. Anna    

      Steve,
      I was told also that I would be contacted and after 1 week, I called them back only to be told that they DON’T contact you. This system is a joke. They’re doing the same to Sacramento as they did to your Black Hills…

      1. Brian    

        Anna,

        If you are having problems with the choice program at the Sacramento VA hospital, I would like to speak with you. I am trying to investigate the flaws in this system for the news.

  7. Harold L Graley    

    So my PCM is at a clinic here in Clarksville Tennessee and any care ig get beyond a check up and renew mymedicans…..I have to go 65 miles one way to get any care for Dermatology pdoriactic arthritis and stomach problems……what the use in having the choice prgram if I still have to drive to Nasville for specialty care

    1. Steve Fletcher    

      Harold, I waited 9 days after being told 3 to 5. I called everybody I could think of, including my senators office. The VA rep at the senators office said she would call so called troubleshooters at my local VA. The troubleshooters never called. I finally got a hold of a retired AF guy working at my local VA. He didn’t hold back about his feelings of how the vets are treated. He called the veterans choice people and found I was not even entered in their system. This reminds me of the problem in Arizona where the schedulers would type all of your info into the system and when done deleted the record. That resulted in vets never being contacted about their appointments. The AF guy helping me told the veterans choice person to put me on urgent status and they were to get back to me in less than 48 hours. I did get a date for the consult the next day. Therein lies the problem. Most of these VA workers never served. In my 27 year military career, I never went home before a job was done. My bosses wouldn’t let me. These civilian VA workers could care less if a vet gets care. It’s all about them.

  8. Nelson Manuel Fernandez    

    I live in an area where there are three clinics that don’t have the required medical facilities. All that are available are more than 60 miles driving distance. I’ve had to drive fourteen times to different appointments (with no milage help), three that required 10-15 minutes care and one where the Dr. Doctors refused to follow the instructions of my Primary Dr. at the local VA facilty, for one of these I spent close 2 hrs. on the phone trying to get approval for the “Veterans Choice Program” and was declined. The nurse that finaly gave me the appointment at the approved facility told me that there was only one more treatment that was required. During the visit the Dr.told me that the person that gave the info. was wrong, so I had to drive 135 miles for nothing.

  9. Guy Johnstone    

    Dave Hall Sr. hit the nail on the head. I have gone round and round trying to get a Dr. to repair my shoulder. The VA says one thing then you call Vet Choice, and they give you the run around. I live 1 hour 45 min. from the VA center. and they want me to go to San Francisco 4 + hours if I go in the middle of the night. I can not drive at night, my wife can not drive that far. I am going to see my Dr next week. I will see if I can shake out of the tree that day. After AZ mess they throw this program together in a few days with no idea how to run it, who was in charge. I hope they remove there heads from the sand.

  10. PTricia Meadows    

    I do not have a car and take the local transportation to the VA medical center in Philly. I have no way to get to a doctor 45 miles away! What are they thinking!?

  11. Joe Decker    

    Have been waiting 5 months for approval to go to the eye doctor for eye glasses. Under old system had approval in a couple of weeks. Some great improvement.

    1. Ralph Corey    

      I have to agree with Joe. Used program for cataract surgery, when I call to find out about glasses I was told I needed the prescription from the doctor then had to bring that into VA and go through VA for glasses. The office where my surgery was done had eye wear. Now I have to wait another month before receiving glasses because the order is out sourceduring then mailed to me.So here I am wearing one lens which is wrong and no lens in the other.Oh yes there are three lense choices to correct your eyes and I was told that the VA only pays for one of them. Come on if you are Changing for the better do it right.

  12. Michael Lance    

    This choice program is your usual VA joke. I have to drive 240 miles round trip to see a VA dermatologist at a VA clinic. The choice program lists a local dermatologist in their program. I called the number on the choice card the VA sent. I was transferred to another number. Why didn’t they just print that number I was transferred to to begin with? Then the person at the second number told me I had to see the VA doctor at the local VA clinic to get approved. Why didn’t the card say this to begin with? Typical VA runaround for veterans.

  13. Joe Decker    

    No such help with dental. I have to drive 500 miles round trip for dental work with the VA. At least mileage and quarters are approved (if appointment is before 0900). Don’t know how many more years I will be able to make the drive.

  14. John Capponi    

    This is another failed program where that some of the call center personnel do no care and mislead the veterans. I file a complaint within there own organization that is set up to handle complaints. I got one email that the complaint was received and the promise that a manager would call, on more than one occasion, never happened.
    I will NEVER use this organization again and will wait 45 days for my appointment.
    Our tax dollars again being wasted on an organization that doesn’t work.

  15. roy chandler    

    So far, I have requested service through the Choice Program. of the three, no providers were available closer than the 75 miles to the nearest VA Facility–USELESS!!!

  16. Glen A. Koelling    

    Same old hassle. Called to check on a medical care need, was told I would have to contact the hospital, 3 1/2 hours drive and they would handle it. Called the hospital and was directed by a voice message to leave my number and they would return my call. Two weeks later no call.

    My pet peeve is that there are clinics in every good sized town in our state for low income and illegal immigrants for medical care with little or no payment required. This also includes dental and vision care. In my case the two nearest VA hospitals are 3 1/2 hours away and no vision or dental coverage. Kind of lets you know who is most important in this country!

  17. Stanley Martin    

    Fix the scheduling problems at all VAMCs. My uncle who served in the Korean War had an appointment with a doctor at Audie Murphy VAMC and another appointment 30 minutes later. The first doctor took an hour to see him and then the other clinic rescheduled his appointment for a later time causing us to be there all day. This may sound trivial but you are making an 84 year old man try to understand why the appointment is changed. Then we are told to be at outpatient surgery at 6am and when we get there at 0545 they tell us “Oh your appointment is not until 0930am. Then we check back in and they tell us “Oh his surgery is scheduled for 11:30, please wait” At 12 non they call him in to prepare for surgery and we have been sitting in the waiting room for six hours with nothing to eat or drink because they said not to eat or drink since the night before.
    I experience similar scheduling problems at my Olin Teague VAMC so I believe it is a widespread problem. I used to be seen every six months for checkups and now they are telling me it will be about every nine months, yet my pharmacy prescriptions run out at six months. I have to email the nurse to get my doctor to extend them every time now.
    So please fix your broken scheduling issues and make it work for us veterans. When I was told to be prepared to cross the LD at a set time it better not be me that was late.

  18. Gino colonacosta    

    I live 38 miles from the bearest clinic 72 miles from the nearest hospital. I had an emergency a year ago with major adominal pain. I recirved the bill from the hospital saying the va declined it because there was a va facility opened at the time. Im a DAV 100percent connected. So im suppose to drive all that distance with the pain until my doctor can fit me into his schedule. Im getting threats by colllection agencies for a bill that the va is resoonsibke for. What great service we fet for thise who serve.

  19. velasquez    

    How about allowing veterans to go to any OPC near them. Even thought it might not be registered with the main facility closest them. I am registered with the El Paso VAMC, live about 2 hrs away. The closes OPC is 45 min’s away, but it associated with Albuquerque, therefore I am not allowed to have my appointments there. Regardless of the main Facility, let us go to the closest OPC for our routine labs and such. This would cut down on having to send us to Fee Basis providers.
    Also, hire more providers, add more OPC’s so that you don’t have to contract out services. Keep it in the VA. There are enough veterans now that adding more OPC’s would make more sense.

  20. Jack Williams    

    What do you expect? When has the VA ever cared? Veterans are nothing more than military personal who have out lived their usefulness and have thus been discarded like any other garbage…

    1. Tommy    

      The VA cares, they just need enough funding from the government.

  21. Larry    

    I was to get an MRI here in New Mexico VA, I am highly claustrophobic so the drug me and tied my arms down so that I could not move and stated to put me into the tub, No that did not work well, that was three weeks ago. The told me that they would make other arrangements, three week late they are telling that I would have to drive about 125 miles to get an open MRI, we have six right here in town, three are right across from the VA.

    The reason for not using them is that they have dealt withe the VA before and it’s all the agenda, the criterial, and of course the money, in how long it takes for the Government to pay for the services.

    I was told it will take another week or so to figure this out, now we are going 5 weeks with this.

  22. Rebecca Rodgers    

    So disheartening to read the above comments from our Veterans. My dad served in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange. He developed laryngeal cancer in 2003. The radiation burned up everything in his throat – carotid arteries (for which he now has 3 stents), thyroid gland (for which he is now on hormone replacement), epiglottis (which is now in a frozen position 1/2 open, 1/2 closed leading to multiple recurrences of aspiration pneumonia which in turn led to a PEG tube and NPO orders (nothing, not even water, by mouth)), and nerve damage in his ears resulting in severe hearing loss.

    In 2005 Dad filed for compensation. You’d think laryngeal cancer as referred to in all the literature, website, and materials they sent him when he was added to the Agent Orange Registry, would result in an automatic 100% service-connected disability. But NO!! The man received at 10% rating. 10% for going when he was drafted and being poisoned by the Government.

    I was so naïve when I first started trying to get him help this past January. I thought the VA cared about our servicemen and servicewomen. I thought we were going to get the help we deserved. Boy was I wrong…and that makes me so sad…for my dad, for myself, and for our military personnel. God help a country that neglects those who protect it.

    1. Michael Hennessey    

      Rebecca it sounds like you are trying to get help on your own, If so call The Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars or any of the other veteran groups and have a service officer handle your case. They are free, want to get answers and know the system.

      It is never simple. I am an Agent Orange Registry veteran. I have a couple of problems that could be because of Agent Orange. However I worked on Ships and after the service in a lumber yard that put me in contact with a lot of questionable chemicals. So the question is what do we blame.
      I have a friend who died from cancers related to Agent Orange but also worked with PCBs after the service which one do we blame.

      Service officers can get through the red tape and get answers.
      Also compensation and medical care are 2 different things. The VA hospitals and clinics will gladly take care of your father. The VA administration may not want to compensate him.
      I hope you find answers.

      1. Daniel A Powell    

        I am a service member, disable service connected, went to disable VA and spoke to officer and since I was
        not a member of DAV he could not help me. Life member of VFW without a location near by. I turned to
        IG but since I am a w/blower they took over 100.00 out of my disable pay. I tried congress rep and
        the add for we got your back what a joke

    2. Lee Holton    

      I totally agree, I served 79-82 and was discharged due to injury caused by shipmate who attached me from behind, VA says no record but Doctors say MRI doesn’t lie, so I get PTSD and denied for the neck and low back. They have replaced both knee’s and the dr tells us a year later I Cant figure out why the right one is worse than before surgery, after 1 back surgery on 3-25-15 sent home that day and at 2am I was numb from the waist down and fell, so the wife calls 911 they shoot me full of morphine and take me to the nearest hospital, then to another hospital and finally a 3rd hospital all in 12hrs only to have the same surgeon do a 6hr surgery and cut my spinal cord and had to sew it up and in intensive care for a week. After all this the Drs are mad that I complained and told if I push to hard to get the facts straight and to repair my failed surgeries they will take away my benefits. Because of the officers in 1981 doing there job and following the UCMJ NO ONE wants to right the wrong. Well sorry if seems like ranting but maybe some one out there can help, I have contacted everyone from Pres Obama to Stetson Law. I know one thing we are still here by Gods will and many of our Sisters and Brothers arent

      1. Harvey Janelli    

        Why not just pay for a PCP Medicare Advantage plan. I recently moved from Las Vegas to Brandon Oregon. My Advantage plan in Vegas was free & a HMO plan however in Band on there are no HMO plans only PCP Medicare plans and come with a fee. It would be cheaper for the VA to enrole all of us in a Medicare PCP plan than to bother with the Choice Plan…..

  23. Willie Tolo    

    In recent past, almost all of my scans n mri xrays have been done by outside providers around my area. It was a routine process that had any issues as they also work on weekends.
    Now, here comes this reinvention called veterans choice n lo n behold, its the same process as before, except I must now wait a little more longer until my local VA submits the info to a third party coordinator who in turn verifies n submits for final approval to Wash DC for me to go thru the same process that I had been going thru in the last decade at the same location. Now does that make any sense at all or what?

    1. Ned Cline    

      I cannot speak for the rest of you but, I have been on both sides. I had private insurance fully funded by my employer, When I had to retire because of service connected disability I turned to the local VA. IO must say I do not see the problems you are having. I signed up on line and went in to the VA and waited maybe a half an hour to be seen and got all of the paperwork completed and received my VA ID. From there I went to see the physician I was assigned as my primary care. That was five years ago and I have no problems in getting into seeing my many doctors. Sometimes I may have to wait a little time to see a doctor for an appointment, but it is no different than wait times I experienced under my private care Doctor. Having said that, is there problems within the VA, absolutely. But the question is are many of those problems fixable, I really don’t believe so. In order too fix the problems the Congress, who is suppose to be working for us, is not. They won’t approve budgets for the VA. As, a matter of fact they cut the budget. This is driven by the right wing just so they can embarrass our President.

      1. Ralph Maddox    

        The reason you are getting first rate care is your Private Insurance. They love it when vets have ins. They charge your ins. co. for EVERYTHING they do for you. The poor guys that have no ins. no family or support are getting the FULL FORSE RUN AROUND. I happen to be Vietnam Era so I get pretty good care, and Have a GREAT doctor at Dublin Ga. VAMC. I have a neighbor that has no wartime service but in way worse condition than mine, and he must fight and scratch for everything he get. In my Humble Opinion, ‘A VETERAN IS A VETERAN” should not matter where or when he or she served. We should all get the same care and consideration..

  24. Thomas W. Farley    

    VA is the home of catch 22. There are so many exceptions, modifications, obfuscations and outright lies that the system can only be run by career bureaucrats that are protected in their jobs. It should be a requirement that VA employees must be veterans. Otherwise, to the great majority of VA employees, we are just ” a name and last four” that is making their life difficult by asking for a little service. Why isn’t there a review board made up of veterans at each VA center to police the behavior and efficiency of the employees and the rules and regulations they use to “help” us. The system is sick and broken. Adding new regulations to bad old ones will not work. There needs to be an overhaul of the system. The cost for this would be quickly recouped by efficiencies that fit the problems of today’s veteran population.

  25. Ed Dunn    

    This program is no more than a typical VA publicity ploy. I was sent 2 confirmations to see a doctor outside of the VA. After I saw the doctor, and got an EKG and chest ex ray from him, he set me up for lab work. I had to call the Healthnet, which is handling this for VA, to get the approval confirmation. After not hearing anything for 2 weeks, I called them back. I was told the VA rescinded my approval because “I was not eligible for primary care” . Now I am waiting on a bill that I will most likely be getting from the doctor I saw. Keep in mind I live 45 miles from one VA center, and 95 miles from the one I actually go to. Oh, and to add to the fiasco, a week after this happened, another woman called and asked if I wanted her to get my next appt. set up with the private doctor! I told her to get me out of the program, that I would not be a pawn in the governments experiment on us.

  26. Anna    

    I was referred to this program because the wait time for a follow up eye appointment was to be many months past the due date. When I called the Choice Program the first time, I gave them info & was told I would be contacted shortly with an appointment. Then after not hearing back after a week, I called again only to be told that they don’t follow up with an appointment–that is my responsibility. Then I was told there would be a $50 copay when I don’t have a copay when I use the VA. I called the VAs Patient Advocate & pretty soon, I had an appt at my VA. I am a fairly young vet and know how to use the system, but I could see that older vets would get so frustrated with this program and just give up on making the appointment. From my experience, this is not only a waste of taxpayers money, but another way for the VA to pretend that they’re addressing a problem. Don’t get me wrong–I love the VA doctors & nurses, but this bureaucracy is maddening…

  27. Robert Daves    

    The Choice Program is a JOKE in my case. I’m a Vietnam Vet. I’m 100 % disabled Decorated Combat Veteran. I live 58 miles from the nearest VA Hospital. I’m told by the VA that I am NOT qualified for the choice program because I’m 100 % Disable !!!! I can’t drive in the mess of traffic in Atlanta, Ga. Does anyone have an an answer for this ?

  28. Tom lovett    

    The VA is lying…again

    1. Western Ranch    

      AGAIN! Veteran’s “MAY” be eligible “IF” they meet requirements! WHAT A FREAK’n JOKE! An insult to our intelligence and our HEALTH needs! Every Veteran should be able to chose their own care facility; especially since civilians can chose under the so called “affordable healthcare act.” Ask yourself why Veterans should be discriminated against in regard to CHOICE of General Physician, Specialists, Dental, Pharmacy, Eye Care, Therapy, Mental Health Care, etc.. Because, VA wants to keep Power, Positions, Possessions and their own Pride in tact and continue to line each others pockets and maintain and build up their dysfunctional empire even bigger and worse than ever before. All Veterans should have CHOICE! Not “if” or “may”… No restrictions!

  29. Daniel Lee Combs    

    Sounded great but when I went to the appointment made by the VA I was told by my medical center that the VA only made the appointment but did not make arrangements for payments, so I had to pay for the visit and meds prescribed. Whey does everything have to be so difficult? Hopefully things will get better in time. Should be able to get medical care anywhere by showing our VA card.

  30. Peter Droste    

    The Choice Program in my area (Western Colorado) is a complete fraud. I was approved for about 10 visits/procedures with various healthcare providers who, with misgivings, agreed to take the program. I racked up several thousand in procedures.
    Then, through a “clerical error”, my address was set to New York, 11 times in 6 months, causing the HEC to withdraw my eligibility, retroactively. I now have a stack of bills, unpaid.
    I hope TRUMP wins, because he will prosecute these criminals and get us decent healthcare.

  31. dwight    

    On the va mountain home I have a n.p.c. for ptsd don,t know what it is buit she is taking my sleep pills away what am I suppose to do???

  32. Patricia Moore    

    I have been waiting for an appointment for a MRI since August….I was told that the appointment was scheduled for August 27, 2015…I called the hospital..they had no record of an appointment scheduled… I have spoken with the Choice Program on at least 4 times to reschedule this appointment. Nothing happens I explain to the person that all I want is an appointment to have the MRI done that they insist that if I pay for through Tricare is not good enough for their purpose….the joke is I will have to go to the same place to get the Procedure done. At this point I can’t believe that this cannot be taken care in a matter of minutes… Oh! I’m still waiting for them call that was supposed to come in on Wednesday with a scheduled appointment. Think I’ll just go have the doctor do the surgery done on my shoulder and send them the DAMN bill. Their customer service always thank you for your service ? What a joke. For all of the unemployed veterans that can’t find jobs they need yo man this program.

  33. Pete Vigil    

    Great if it worked. I was referred to Tri-West for PT a while back. I waited the eight days and called Tri-West they did not have me in their system. This went on for about a month. Finally they had me in their system but did not set an appointment. After three and a half month I receive a computer generated call “You have an appointment with Nadia at 9:00 AM of Tuesday” end of conversation. I called Tri-West, they responded we did not call you. Gave me another phone number to call. I call the alternate number and their response was “May we schedule a PT appointment for you. I informed them that I went through the VA La Jolla, California Non VA appointment office and had been in PT for over two months. Ny opinion is that Tri-West should be de-funded and the funds provided to the VA for additional service.

    On a positive note: The Medical staff at the La Jolla VA are great. My Primary is the best I have ever had.

  34. JIm Fuhl    

    This CHOICE program is badly flawed and did not work at all. It might work if they get the government SCHEDULERS out of the loop. Just provide a list of acceptable providers near me and I will call and set up the appointment. Simple, easy. So do it already VA!

  35. Jackie Sewall    

    What about the hospitals and providers? Has the issue of the health claims processing nightmare been addressed? Expansion for VETS, great! But what about fixing the process of paying Non-VA providers promptly with clear and real reasons for denials? There’s a huge void in communication and perhaps this needs to get addressed 1st before the expansion.

  36. Stephen R. Holt    

    Having been enrolled in the VA Health Care System for several years, I don’t recall ever being able to schedule an appointment within 30 days of request, neither mine, nor my provider . Thus, I looked forward to the implementation of the Choice Program. After receiving a form letter from the current Secretary with instructions for qualification, I posted an “Secure Message” appointment request to my Primary Healthcare Provider, via my Myhealthevet Premium Account. Months later, having not received a reply, I called the phone number provided in the letter, as instructed. The lady that answered advised that I was required to call the Choice Champion at the OBVAMC. I’ve called numerous times, leaving a message with my phone number each time, without reply. I checked my account yesterday, only to find that the message that I sent, has been deleted. What now?

  37. Felix O    

    I have been a veteran for 22 years. I rejuested some assistance some 10 or 12 years ago and had been rejected, all I needed at the time was some insulin I COULD NOT AFFORD TO BUY. Today I have cancer uncontrollable diabetes, osteoporosis and very serious spinal column issues. I have medicare and tricare however no one to accept both . I have called VA and spoken to 4 people all wanting to help however the last person they transferred the call to left me hanging after waiting 45min. Can you help me I’m in bad shape and suffering from depression I no longer know what to do ! Thank you

  38. Charitina Gibbons    

    The VACHOICE PROGRAM is NOT ACCEPTED @ UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL in CLEVELAND, OH. I went for a surgical procedure, bilateral total hip replacement that I’ve been waiting 4 years for, and told they are ” boycotting” the program as of this week. Anyone have any idea why?

    1. Ann Knowles    

      Because the program is CRAP!!! It doesn’t pay and the amount they are reimbursed is so low that most places WILL NOT accept VA patients even if they did previously.

  39. Lawrence Buchanan    

    The Veteran’s Choice Program appears to be just a flashy public relations scam! I have a Primary Care Clinic 10 miles from my home that provides me a Nurse Practitioner and a laboratory for basic bloodwork and urine. All my important treament is done at the main clinic over 40 miles away. This includes cardiology, dermatology, optometry, audiology, orthopedics and other essential speciaties I require. Even tough I have to wait over 60 days for my opthamoligst, they still deny me use of the Veteran’s Choice Program. Two years ago I had 4 broken bones in my foot and had to wait 5 /12 months for a podiatrist! It seems they are quick to find reasons to disqualify you from the program. Even though I am a Priority One vet and qualify for 100% care, and I am more than 40 miles from a facility providing the type care needed, AND can’t get an appoinment sooner than 60 days, I am still not qualified. What am I missing?

  40. David Ulven    

    The Choice program just plain does NOT work! I live 75 miles from a VA hospital. On 08/03/15 the VA made me an appointment for 09/28/15 for a Echocardiogram. Over the next 3 weeks and about 30 phone calls to Choice, they called me and said they scheduled an appointment at my local Cardiologist for the Echo. on 10/20/15. Almost 3 months after I originally talked to the VA. I called the Cardiologist and It turned out this was an appointment that I had scheduled in June and the doctor said he could not do the test until at least November.So the Choice program called me about an appointment that I had already made almost 3 months later and I still could not get the test done. I finally gave up on the Choice Program.

  41. Susan Leach    

    I have been happy with the choice program. Although there is a VA clinic in my small town, the VA hospital is about 200 miles away. Whenever I need care beyond what the clinic can provide, they send me to a local doctor. I appreciate my VA healthcare and have not had any problems with it.

  42. Grampy Tom    

    I was waiting for cardiology tests and results and follow-up visits spaced out over a month apart for several months in the future at the VA when I wound up in the local hospital’s emergency room. I needed immediate bypass and valve job. The VA had said that even though I could not walk more than 25 steps without stopping for minutes of rest, my heart was not too bad and the time between all my future appointments was no problem. The hospital told me if I didn’t come in when I did, I would have had a major heart attack, pssibly the big one since the artey blocked was the “widow maker”. The hospital took my VA card and chice card to contact the VA. They treated me right away, being a place that takes the hippocratic oath seriously, not like the VA. The VA turned down ALL of the claim bybthe hospital even though it was service related by way of agent orange exposure (It won’t hurt you, it only kills trees!) The choice program would probably work if it wasn’t adminsitered by people who don’t care about the vets as long as they get their bonuses for keeping costs down. They would really like us all to die so they don’t have to work so hard or pay the costs of the services we were promised when we put our lives on the line. If we had served like the VA works we would have lost every engagement, battle and war.

  43. Gerald L. Dixon    

    What happened to my reply, Typical action by the government

  44. Thomas J McElhinny    

    This is a laugh and a half. A month ago my local VA put me in for an open MRI. As of today I haven’t been put into the system. I have made several calls to the CHOICE 800 number but for some reason it never got into the system., If this is a VA program then why is it outsourced to a civilian firm?

  45. FRED STAMMER    

    VA Choice Program doesn’t work at all. The employees don’t help. They told me to call my Congressman for help. VAHC Dr’s and nurses aren’t trained on the program. Every comment prior mine is simular to or exactly the same thing I’ve experienced with the CHOICE PROGRAM. Either fix the program or put the money in a different part of the VA that is working.

  46. Grace Baber    

    This program has so far worked quite well for me. Due to continuity of care of getting MRIs completed on the same machine, I call Program Choice and the University where the work had always been conducted prior to the Choice Program that had already been authorized by the VA and had no challenges whatsoever. I did explain to each coordinator that I really wasn’t sure how the program worked and provided each with the POC for the other but on my part, with minimal effort, things have gone smoothly.

    Also, for back pain I wanted to use a chiropractor/acupuncturist. When I tried to use my Tricare I discovered that although I had an authorization that I’d be footing the bill. I started swimming sessions at the gym and had to think about it. Then after calling Program Choice I was initially told that I was denied. I increased my swimming sessions at the gym and let it go. Today I was called to be told that after reviewing my Tricare that they were trying to find me some care. Amazing stuff to know that someone is still trying to get me assistance with, again, minimal effort on my part and genuine mutual politeness when contacted. I am still swimming at the gym too.

    From my conversations with the coordinators at Program Choice, there are continual reviews on how to improve the program for all of us veterans. I remain pleased because Bob McDonald is working diligently to keep it real for our healthcare and that this program is continuing to improve. Granted, I live in the suburbs of Baltimore so travel is fairly simple. I’m just glad for the opportunity afforded to me that I may have some options outside the swimming pool since I don’t use prescriptions or otherwise.

    In contrast to life prior to Program Choice and to be slightly macabre, my allergist literally died from old age while waiting to review my lab results from the VA.

    Thanks again to all at Program Choice!

  47. walter w grigg    

    I started dealing with the VA about two years ago. I have a purple heart, wounded in combat etc. I filled out the forms. sent them in. was denied, even though i sent them my dd214. so i wrote my congressman. twelve days later i got a call from VA. we have a letter here. Our mistake. you are in priority 3. I have been to Va for glasses and hearing aids and yearly exam. So far no real problem. My appointment for glasses was three months off. I wrote my congressman and three weeks later i get a call from Va advocate. What can we do. Can we squeeze you in etc. My congressman, in the house, John Coryn, well the house is responsible for funding the VA. Have to hit em where it hurts them.after Vision exam. was told three months to get glasses. got them in three weeks. one doctor said come back in six months for hearing aids. the other said oh no. lets get them now for you. three weeks later, I now have hearing aids. My dad once said, when you get old, live close to hospitals. I now understand what he means. I would love to live in small town but reality is living close to hospitals, clinics etc is best for my age of 66. In conclusion… If you dont like what they tell you. Dont accept it. If given an appointment, call the next day. Odds are it is not in the system. Get names of whom you talk to. Tell them you are contacting your congressman.. Write your congressman. Find their local office if possible. Get their fax number…acquire their email address. do not hesitate to contact them. contact representatives of both parties in your district. Remember Someone is always running for elections.

  48. curtis f frith    

    Every program the V A tries to implement is so complicated it causes more confusion than good. If the V A could understand simple is better than complicated life would be better for the veteran.

  49. cr benson    

    The Veterans Voice program is worthless! I signed up months ago, have not been contacted, and remain travelling 80 miles for help.

  50. Anthony declue    

    Used the choice program for glasses and physical therapy. 3 month out appointment from va by the time I got an appointment through the choice program it took 2 months and 3 weeks and I live in Las Vegas. Fix this system!!!!!! I am a combat veteran with many tours starting in the late 80’s thanks for the poor service choice program!!!!!

  51. Richard    

    This is a badly needed program and has met head on with the middle management of the VA.
    Once they think it through and realize their jobs are not at risk and get behind it all will work out.
    The vets will get better care and the VA will be a better place to work.

    We are dealing here with job fear and lack of vision by some VA employees. VA management needs to lead and not create fear and confusion in the ranks as they jockey for positions.

    The hardest thing to do is to lead the order of new things, still true today.

  52. Jim Schrankel    

    I can’t believe the bitching and whining about this new program. It shows that the VA is at least trying to unclog the backup. It’s in the early stages of development, and is doing a lot better than Obamacares rollout. I’ve had a totally positive experience with the VA, including a perceptive audiologist that detected an abnormality during a routine hearing test. That led to the discovery of two large brain rumors that had to be removed. The VA turned the operation over to the best brain surgeon in Seattle and paid for everything. So suck it up buttercups and take responsibility for follow ups and appointments. And thank you for your service.

  53. Richard Haffey    

    I am a two tour Viet Nam vet, 100% service connected. I live in Southern California and the VA hospital and Clinics are only about a 20 minute drive for me, distance is not a problem. I have been using the VA,s health care since 1975, I have had good care on the most part and all problems i have experienced are with scheduling and administration, I use the Myhealthevet web site and so far so good, I blew out my back a few weeks ago and e mailed my Dr. for a referral for Physical Therapy, a week goes by and no response, a few days later i get a letter in the mail that my primary care Dr. is taking a new position and i will be getting a new Dr. I call several times only to get the recording and put on hold and then disconnected. After a few days and many attempts i get an appointment set up with new Dr. and appointment is only 2 days away. My request for the referral fell through the cracks when the Drs were getting switched, I get the referral and when i call to make the appointment I deal with the phone system again, recording, recording and more recording, then get disconnected, I go in a few days later for an injection and then head to physical therapy to see if i can make an appointment at the front desk and not through the phone system, i show the gal my cell phone and the number of times i had called trying to set up appointment, She gets into her computer and tells me first appointment is 24 Dec. I was afraid to ask what year. I tell her to forget it and start to walk away, she said wait you qualify for the Choice Program, she said i had to wait 10 days and then call them and they would set up care at a private practice, What is the 10 day wait all about? They do not answer their phones and if i ever get through and they set me up with private care i am sure the private practice will tell me first appointment is 30 days down the road. The VA hospital runs 24/7, if they have a back log of patients for certain clinics why not start a second shift, or do clinics on the weekends, traffic and parking problems are solved. The building is there, all the equipment is there, just need a few warm bodies to man the clinics. This has to be cheaper and more efficient way of dealing with a problem that would go away with some simple common sense. I hate to see people bashing the VA all the time, i feel for you guys who are having problems more serious than mine.

  54. Nancy Bauer    

    My experience with the Veterans Choice program might possibly have been good. I went to a civilian pain doctor who was doing injections in my back, VA failed to pay, civilian doctor said they would reschedule once they have received payment, I believe this was in July and it is now October.

    My second experience with the Veterans Choice program they sent me to see a rheumatology doctor. I have been twice, he has sent in for a prescription to help with swelling in my hands (twice now) a month later and still has not been filled.

    My opinion the VA is wasting my time their money if thy are not willing to go along with the doctors or they fail to make payments. I guess that is OK, I wish to living hell I had voodoo doll so I could stick pins in their happy ass and let them feel the pain I have they could not walk a day in my shoes much less 30 minutes.

  55. Wallace Allport jr    

    I pull A calf muscle in my leg choice says I’m not eligible because I live 18 miles from A clinic that has no open appointments for at least 2 weeks so I can go to the urgent care at the Detroit VA hospital in downtown Detroit which is 47 miles away wasn’t this Choice program for people who have to go 40 miles to A VA hospital whats the point of this program that doesn’t work why have it and why send me A ID card for the Choice program when I’m not eligible so now I have only 2 option’s drive 45 miles to A urgent care that really sucks or go to A real hospital and pay through the (redacted) this BS about the Choice program is just that just BS the VA is still A joke. Guess I won’t be doing any walking anytime soon.

  56. Wallace Allport jr    

    This Choice program is really bad they’ll send you A ID card but your not eligible they won’t let you go to A Dr. but they’ll bury you for free great benefit package the VA has.

  57. Larry Lane    

    At least you all are getting some help from the VA. My wife and I are both Vietnam era USAF veterans. When we retired a few years ago, we tried to sign up for the benefits we were promised when we enlisted. Gee, it seems they have changed the rules, long after the game was over. Because I have a pension from 31 years as a 911 Dispatcher/Supervisor, we are no longer eligible for any VA assistance. We had not planned on the skyrocketing cost of medical insurance and prescriptions, so we hoped the VA could help cushion that blow. Wrong. Thanks a lot, congress, for stabbing our vets in the back. Again.

  58. joan bovo    

    YOU KNOW WHAT MAKES ME MAD? MY HUSBAND APPLIED FOR A DISABILITY AND WAS DENIED. SO HE SENT A REBUTTAL AND WAS DENIED AGAIN BECAUSE THE VA DID NOT DO THE PAPER WORK RIGHT.. THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON 2 YEARS NOW. SO HES DOING IT AGAIN AND THE PERSON AT VA SAID THIS HAS TO GO TO WASHINGTON THIS TIME WILL TAKE 4 TO 6 YEARS FOR A ANSWER. WHAT A JOKE. MY HUSBAND COULD DIE BEFORE WASHINGTON ANSWERS US. 26 YEARS OF SERVICE AND YOU JUST GET KICKED AROUND ON EVERY THING. SO STRESSED.

  59. joan bovo    

    YOU KNOW WHAT MAKES ME MAD? MY HUSBAND APPLIED FOR A DISABILITY AND WAS DENIED. SO HE SENT A REBUTTAL AND WAS DENIED AGAIN BECAUSE THE VA DID NOT DO THE PAPER WORK RIGHT.. THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON 2 YEARS NOW. SO HES DOING IT AGAIN AND THE PERSON AT VA SAID THIS HAS TO GO TO WASHINGTON THIS TIME WILL TAKE 4 TO 6 YEARS FOR A ANSWER. WHAT A JOKE. MY HUSBAND COULD DIE BEFORE WASHINGTON ANSWERS US. 26 YEARS OF SERVICE AND YOU JUST GET KICKED AROUND ON EVERY THING. SO STRESSED..

  60. Ralph N, Giannola    

    I have had a melanoma cancer removed from my scalp this past June, it was a 3and a half hour operation, and am experiencing some discomfort. I called the VA to get an appointment to have the doctor check my incision, but no luck. One of The Doctors from dermatology called me, I explained again that I still have stitches that have not fallen out, and that they are irritating, but could not get me an appointment. I will try again on Monday morning.

  61. Meredith    

    The VA Choice program is has left us with no choice! This program has only made our lives more complicated and cluttered. My husband can’t drive, so he was getting local care from non-VA providers so that he could take (expensive) public transportation to these appointments. It gave him independence and gave me a chance to care for our young daughter. Now I have to drive 45 mins one way to get him to PT twice a week, OT, etc. Then we have to drive 2.5 hrs away to get any other services not at our local CBOC. Public transportation cost would be astronomical! No thank you!

  62. harold fager    

    I am a ,Vietnam Vet, been using the VA , for-17 years never had a problem,good service and care

  63. Marie Stroud    

    I was signed up for my mammogram an additional hour from the one I had been sent to previously. And was told to get copies of my previous teats and bring with me. My logic was that if I had to go by there to get the films why not get it done there. Someone at the VA helped me with that and I’m back at the previous clinic.

  64. John Dougherty    

    I don’t know how a government approved this Choice Care. It is just a VA con job. I asked for an appointment with a dermatologist because I had some skin problems that looked like melanoma. I already had melanoma two times. Well, I was given an appointment 56 days from the time I asked for it. I asked to use Choice Care for this appointment. I was put on a list and told it will take about three days to get my appointment. And then the lies and delays started. The Choice Card is just another way of delaying the veterans the care they need and deserve. I have called and called Choice Care for over a month and Choice Care did not get me an appointment yet. They tell me they are working on it. Just more delays. Just like VA.
    I have been on the phone with Choice Care a dozen times and still have not gotten an appointment. About a month had passed and no appointment from Choice Care. Then came the call from Choice Care. I was told they could get me an appointment in October. That would be over a five month delay or I could just keep the VA appointment.
    This must be some kind of fake insurance that VA set up. Just more delays with more veterans dying while they wait for care.
    So, I kept my appointment with VA. Fifty-six days after my request. Well, the doctor said I have squamous cell carcinoma cancer and that will need surgery. The soonest VA can do surgery is September 4, 2015. VA found the cancer July 8, 2015 after a 56 day delay in getting me to see a doctor. This makes the total delay time about four months. This is totally wrong and someone should be in jail for this type of service.
    Also, how did congress okay this as part of the Choice Card?
    A veteran must live more than 40 miles from the closest VA medical facility to be eligible to use the Choice Card. If there is any VA medical facility within 40 miles, even if it does not care for your medical condition, you are not eligible to use Choice Card. This card is just a con job.

    1. James A Friel    

      I FEEL YOUR PAIN JUST EXPERIENCED THE SAME THING.

      Told by VA doctor on 6/24/15 I might have skin cancer on my neck. Set appointment at VA Orlando which is 60 miles from my home appt 9/26/15. Went to choice program(????) they then set an appointment with local doctor for 10/6/15 5 miles from my home. Went to doctor who informed me that I would be seeing a PA and the letter said that I woiuld have to see the doctor. They informed me that since the letter did not specify the PA the VA would not pay and I would end up with the bill.They said that this has happened numerous times in the past. I have to agree with previous statements that the VA has implemented this program as a CYA after all of the bad publicity that it has received. NOTHING NEW SAME OLD STORY!!!!!!!
      SEMPER FI!!!!!!!

  65. Tom Brollini    

    I live 20mi from a clinic which only does basic care like talking to your PC doc who then puts a appointment request in the system. All appointments for actual treatment are at the VA hospital that is over 50mi away. So, can’t use “Choice” do to the clinic being only 20mi away even though they don’t actually “treat” patients. Typical VA runaround! SOS

    1. Romuald p. Henry    

      i agree wikth ur estimant on this situatioon, the cure is worst thasn the problem!!after readingall these postsfor the last5 hrs, i cant believe any one is so calose as to make life so missable for so many people, muchless people who have given so much of their lives while they sat back and critized us for defending pour country. its not unly disgraseful,but is almost unbeleivable!! t6his is suppose to be AMERICA, where is our pride??? how can we ask young men & woman to do as we were asked & didfor our country!!! how are we as a nation to serfive like this?? would our fonding fathers tolerate what congress & and suppreme court have passed as LAW OF THE LAND in the last few yrs?? im starting to think we as a nation are a bunch of spinless BASTERDS!! shame on us , me as well as u the citezens of this once great nation

  66. steven    

    I have been in choice for awhile now and it seems to be working out so far. There are some glitches sure but overall it ‘s working. The only way to make it work consistently is to scrape the current system and go directly to private care. Won’t happen. Make the best of it. Stop whining and call, write or advocate for yourself in any way you can. Make noise and you will he heard.

  67. Edmund F.Guy    

    I live 4 hour drive from the nearest V A Hospital. The means test for V A is $15,000.00 plus. But to be eligible for travel pay it is $12,500.00. I have a choice card. I have went to local facilities and did not get near the services I get at VA. The mialage you can deduct has been 411/2 cents for at least the last ten years. They don’t want to pay travel pay period.. I have put in for it and make &100.00 over limit and was turned down.

  68. Shirley Evans    

    I am a Veteran and my husband was too. He passed away in 2009 from service connection disabilities. My son is a Veteran also. This program that was set up for Veterans sounds like a good idea except how do you get the physician’s office staff to call the VA to get approved? The doctor’s office that my son went to still has not gotten him set up yet and he has been trying for one year already. The VA hospital in Dublin sure doesn’t help and the people that work there doesn’t even know what to do or even offer any help. Dublin and the Waycross clinic are both a one hour drive away. I definitely don’t see anyone trying to help our Veterans and giving them good advice. Heck, when my husband passed away, I had to ask all of the questions even though there were supposed to be grief counselors available. Unless I called, I didn’t get any answers. The VA rep from the local area did not even know the protocols or procedures for getting the paperwork completed. There doesn’t seem to be any consistent training or direction with these VA employees. And it frustrates all of the Veterans! The best communication about procedures and what needs to be done comes from Veterans talking to Veterans. I think that the only people that should work at the VA are Veterans themselves.

  69. Larry J. Wilson II    

    My very recent and current experience with the “New” Choice program is one of disgust, frustration and total disappointment in the VA’s supposed effort to improve. After the debacle of 2014 as a veteran, I was hopeful that things would change, that the nightmare of the “system” would somehow improve.

    On July 13, 2015, a consultation was issued from the Orthopedics department of the Phoenix VA to the Choice program in an effort to set an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to resolve a back issue that I’ve had for some time. I met with the Orthopedics Dr. at the VA and discussed the options for surgery or other possibilities. We determined that the best course of action would be surgery. I was told that someone would be in touch with me within a week to schedule that appointment. A week went by and no one called so, I contacted the Choice program and pushed to get it scheduled (for Aug 11, 2015). Choice told me that they had to “find” a provider that would accept the consult. Don’t they already have a list of contracted providers??????????
    I was told that the scheduling was supposed to be done by Tri-west who finally contacted me a full 13 days (July 26, 2015) after the original consult was sent and were surprised that I had already scheduled an appointment.
    After meeting with Dr. on Aug 11, there was a question by the radiology provider as to the authorization for any procedures. I called Choice and was told by a young lady that it was included in the original consult and authorization as well as any surgeries or treatments recommended by the Dr.

    We scheduled surgery for Monday, September 14, 2015 . On Thursday, September 10 at approximately 12 noon, I received a call from the Doctors office telling me that the hospital was not going to allow the surgery and would have to reschedule because they had not received the authorization from the VA for the surgery. It took over 2 months from my first consultation to the surgery….how much longer should I have to endure this pain?

    This is the point at which I have to sit back and resist the impulse to completely unload my sentiment and my feelings about the incompetence, the stupidity, the ignorance and the complete lack of responsibility that anyone in this whole process has taken. Each organization from the VA to the Choice Program to Tri-West to Purchased Care has been very quick to simply point at “someone” else as the problem in this process. I spent over 3 hours on the phone with all of these entities to try and get an answer to this issue. Tri-west says that they didn’t get approval from the VA, the VA says it submitted the consult to Choice, Choice says that they can’t do anything because it has been sent to Tri-West. DID ANYONE GET THAT I AM IN PAIN AND DESPARATELY NEED THIS SURGERY! And Tri-West said how much they “understood” my frustration and that it was their goal to provide continuation of care for the veteran. They don’t have a clue what it’s like to be on this side of the fence.

    On Friday, September 11, 2015 I wait all day for a return call from Choice, Tri-West and VA confirming that my surgery on Monday is going to be completed. What happened to “doing what you say you’ll do”? All of these groups (people) said they would call me back and none did! It’s difficult enough and strenuous enough to have the surgery without the additional angst of having to deal with the administrative BS. I have, again, been on the phone for hours and have finally been able to confirm that the hospital will not reject me for surgery. Why do I still feel uncomfortable about this?

    I cannot fathom how unbelievably ineffective this process is. Does it take 3 organizations to ask, get, approve something that should be from the VA ortho department to the Dr that I’m going to see? The United States is paying 4 people to do one job! If these people (who apparently cannot be fired) were in the private sector, they would have been fired and the companies they worked for wouldn’t have made it past the first year.

    If this is what American taxes pay for, then the Politicians who make the decisions about funding the VA should be “fired”. You just keep cutting funding to pursue your own personal agendas and those of us who “gave” you that opportunity are being made to suffer.

    Most of you political clowns have never served and that’s a shame. Maybe you’d get that paying your dues really should mean something. This is pathetic and no way to treat veterans. I, unlike most vets, don’t sit around waiting for someone to “take care” of me and the saddest part of all of this is that most vets are not in a place in their lives to be capable of pushing for help.

    I spent 6 tours on a Nuclear submarine during the Vietnam era and what I learned is that you look out for one another or you die. You politicians have only one interest in mind and that is yourselves. If you’re not willing to step up and do the right thing, then get out of the way and we’ll find someone who will.

    By the way, does anyone read these posts??????????

  70. Joseph Benjamen Collins    

    How do I apply for this program?

    1. James A Friel    

      This is turning into socialized medicine that works on the premise that if they frustrate you and make you wait long enough you will die and they wont be bothered with you anymore!!!!!SEMPER -FI

    2. Diane Kauffmann    

      You don’t apply. It’s mandated by Congress and has been expanded, but it’s still in the “test” phase. Contact your closest VA Medical Center to see if they’re using Veteran’s Choice. However, I’ve had nothing but problems with it; I had no problems when the VA scheduled me directly with local providers.

  71. Gary Langdon    

    Having read the blogs here I can attest to the same dissatisfaction with the Vet Choice program. I won’t go into my individual experience but would ask what the VA is doing to correct the program to some semblance of working order?

  72. FRANK LOSSMAN    

    I have been waiting since September 2, 2015, for a test report to be sent to my VA Doctor. Had trouble getting the test scheduled in the first place. This program is nothing short of being a big joke and waste of valuable VA money. Worked better when the hospital could schedule a necessary fee base test.

  73. Preston Wagner    

    We all know how the V.A. works… it don’t. I agree with the Concerned Vets for America. V.A. needs to be shut down completely.

  74. Danny R Buckaloo    

    I live 38 miles from a va clinic so i do not get to use va choice program. i am 60% disabled when i do use the clinic they send me to va hospital in okc 140 miles away i think this is just stall that the va uses. i also go into my local hospital about twice a year but because i have medicare part a &b but not a 20% supplement they wont pay anything.the clinic is good for shots but that is about all.

  75. Diane Kauffmann    

    I’m an Air Force Vet; my husband is an Army Vet. We’ve had nothing but problems with Veteran’s Choice. The administrators of this outsourced POS are inept. For the record, we’ve had exemplary care from the VA in our state of West Virginia. I’ve had 2 surgeries (one with a 5 day stay in University of Pittsburgh, VA), plus numerous other procedures. I’ve never had a problem getting an appointment in a timely manner, for my primary, or specialists. All of our care has been outstanding. I know that many Vets aren’t as fortunate and that all of us should have this level of care. However, Veterans Choice Care is not the answer.

    Until I was forced into this program, the VA simply made appointments for me directly with local civilian providers. I was finally forced to use Vet’s Choice to schedule a test that I needed prior to surgery that was scheduled in July. I called Vet’s Choice to make the appointment; at least this call rep was honest. She admitted that she didn’t know what she was doing. After trying to explain to her the nature of the test and which type of specialist would be needed, she told me to get the name, address, and phone number of a local that accepted Vet’s choice and “call back with the information”. In the mean time, she “filled out the form” so that the claim could proceed.

    After doing their work for them, I called back with all of the required information. The “form” was not filled out, so we went through it again. I was told that I would hear within 5 days. 5 days came and went, no appointment. Now, we’re within 2 weeks of my surgery. I called back. No information, save the fact that I called, was in the computer. Once again, I provided them with the info. This time, she “made notes” of everything I told her to give to the supervisor. She said that they would “walk my information to the appointment division”. I would hear something within 72 hours.

    72 hours came…went. I called back. It’s funny, the computer was working when I first called. When I got the supervisor on the telephone, she told me that the computers were down and had been down “all morning” I made sure that she had a pen, paper, and that she knew how to write. I went through the information and my problems again. The first thing this woman said to me was that, “It takes 5 days for an appointment to be made”, then silence. Apparently, it was my fault that they did not make the appointment in the 3 WEEKS previously. She said I would hear back “within 72 hours, and that she would “walk my information to the appointment department.

    Get the drift? They must memorize the “computers are down” and “walking the information to the appointment department” crap.

    To make an even longer story short, they finally made the appointment…for 3 days AFTER my surgery, with an entire month of lead time.

    Fast forward to this minute. The VA optometrist found a tear in my husband’s retina, during a routine vision check for glasses. My husband was sent immediately to WVU Eye Institute, where he underwent laser surgery (within 2 hours of this visit). I got a call from the Veterans Choice coordinator, that he has to go back for a follow-up. Unfortunately, we have to use Choice. After I complained, she said that she’d heard the same stories from a lot of vets. She told me to make sure that Choice understood that this was an urgent appointment. If we had a problem to call her back. Sooo…

    I called Choice people on Monday, gave them the information, and told them that it was urgent, that he get in ASAP. Well, today is Friday, and we just called back. Once again, it’s interesting. When I called, I gave them his information and they pulled him up on the computer. We were put on hold and transferred to another person who said that the computers were “down” for us to call back in an hour. Well, the hour has passed, we called back and low and behold…no appointment has been made. However, we we’re told that “it takes 5 days for an appointment to be made, but I’ll transfer you to the appointment division. They transferred us. THE COMPUTERS WERE DOWN, according to this next idiot.

    In the mean time, I contacted both US Senators from the State of West Virginia, with our story. I’ve just gotten off of the phone with Senator Manchin’s legislative assistant. They’ve been deluged with complaints about Veteran’s Choice, which is a small part of the Veterans Accountability and Choice Act. Veteran’s Choice was meant to be a temporary program, as an immediate fix to the Phoenix VA problems, and other problems in the VA system. The problem is, I’ve never had any problem getting an appointment, until Veteran’s Choice.

    Veteran’s Choice has introduced:

    1. Extended wait time for appointments
    2. Added expense. Money should be used specifically to expand hospitals and hire healthcare providers; the VA is bursting at the seams in WV.
    3. Added anxiety
    4. Apparently, Veteran’s Choice people need new computers. I should lend them my 6 year old laptop; it doesn’t “go down” nearly as often.

    I’ve read comments on a couple of Veteran’s sites that Vets can’t possibly be complaining about this program. Who would want to drive 200 miles to see a VA specialist? Well, I’m a Vet and I’m complaining LOUDLY.

    Please!!! If you’re having problems with this program, contact your US Senators and House Representative in Washington. They’re looking for information, whether good or bad. Please, be specific, things will happen quicker.

  76. Mike Gunter    

    My first use of Verterans’ Choice has been terrible.

    I have routine Cataracts, but the inept workers at VC just diddle themselves, losing referral forms, misunderstanding what’s necessary and basic geography.

    VC needs to be blown up. Destroyed.

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