10 things to know about the Veterans Choice Program


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The Veterans Choice Program (VCP) is a benefit that allows eligible Veterans to receive health care from a community provider rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility.

1. Am I eligible for the Veterans Choice Program?

To be eligible for the program, you must be enrolled in VA health care and must also meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You are told by your local VA medical facility that you will need to wait more than 30 days for an appointment.
  • You residence is more than a 40 mile driving distance from the closest VA medical facility with a full time primary care physician.
  • You need to travel by air, boat, or ferry to the VA medical facility closet to your house.
  • You face an unusual or excessive burden in traveling to the closest VA medical facility based on a geographic challenge, environmental factor, medical condition, or other specific clinical decisions. Staff at your local VA medical facility will work with you to determine if you are eligible for any of these reasons.
  • You reside in a State or a United States Territory without a full-service VA medical facility that provides hospital care, emergency services and surgical care, and reside more than 20 miles from such a VA medical facility. Note: This criterion applies to Veterans residing in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also note that some Veterans in New Hampshire reside within 20 miles of White River Junction VAMC and are therefore not eligible for the Veterans Choice Program.

2. What if I think I am eligible?

  • Call the VCP Call Center at 866-606-8198 or visit the Veterans Choice Program website to verify eligibility and set up an appointment here.

3. Can I call my non-VA doctor to make an appointment?

  • No, please call the VCP call center at 866-606-8198 to verify eligibility and set up an appointment.

4. How is the 40 mile calculation determined?

  • This calculation is based on the driving distance from your permanent residence (or active temporary address) to the closest VA facility, including Community-Based Outpatient Clinics and VA Medical Centers. You are eligible if you live more than 40 miles driving distance from the closest medical facility that has a full-time primary care physician.

5. If I am eligible for the Veterans Choice Program, can I receive Beneficiary Travel for travel to appointments with a VCP provider?

  • Yes, the Choice Act does provide funding to pay for travel to VCP providers for Veterans who are eligible for Beneficiary Travel. However, it did not provide any new Beneficiary Travel eligibility.

6. If I didn’t get my Choice Card or I lost my Choice Card, what do I do?

  • You do not need your Choice Card to access the VCP. If you didn’t receive a Choice Card or lost your Choice Card, simply call 866-606-8198 to find out if you are eligible and to make an appointment.

7. How do I get my prescription filled if I use the Veterans Choice Program?

  • The community provider you see through the VCP can issue a prescription for up to a 14 day supply of a national formulary drug. You may have the 14 day supply filled at any non-VA pharmacy of your choosing.
  • Prescriptions can be reimbursed through the Business Office/Non-VA Care Coordination Office at VA facilities. This reimbursement may take 30-45 days to process, and requires a copy of the prescription and the original receipt. Veterans cannot be reimbursed at the VA Pharmacy.
  • For prescriptions needed past 14 days, please follow standard procedures to fill a prescription at the VA pharmacy.

8. If I use the Veterans Choice Program, does that affect my VA health care?

  • No, not at all. You do not have to choose between the two. The VCP is here to make it easier to access the care you need. VA is building a high-performing integrated health care network to deliver the best of VA and the community. This integrated network will give Veterans more choices to access care and ensure care is delivered where and when you need it.

9. What is my responsibility for co-payments to my other insurance?

  • Nothing. VA is now the primary coordinator of benefits for VCP, so you are only responsible for your VA copayment.
  • Your VA copayment will be determined by VA after the care is provided. VA copayments will be billed by VA after the appointment.

10. How does the new VCP extension law affect me?

  • Public Law 115-26, enacted April 19, 2017, made three key changes to help improve the VCP. The law removed the expiration date for the program, made VA primary coordinator of benefits for services provided to you, and it removed barriers with sharing necessary health information with community providers.

More Information

  • Please refer to the Veterans Choice Program website for more information about the program, its benefits, and eligibility criteria here.
  • Providers interested in participating must establish a contract with one of the contractors, Health Net Federal, or TriWest Healthcare Alliance. For more information, about how to participate please visit Veterans Choice Program website for providers.

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. Barbara Mullins    

    This program is useless. No one will take it because the VA does not pay its bills. Your contractor made appointment for my husband in another state. A three hour drive one way. What a joke!

    1. Grant Fisk    

      There is a bad side to this though. I had a claim appointment. The VA couldn’t get me in for two months, so they forced me to drive to a civilian Doctor in Stockton for one issue and to another civilian in Concord for the other. What really sucked is the second appointment was for my shoulder, and they sent me to a frigging WEIGHT LOSS CLINIC in Concord for it. I was examined by, what I thought was an MD, but she was only a CNA. After the examination, I had to wait in the damned waiting room for one and a half hours, so the CNA’s results could be evaluated by an actual MD. I say forced because when I asked to wait the two months so I could be seen by a VA MD, the VA said that my claim would be denied if I didn’t go to these civilian MDs (?) So, it’s not always a good thing.

    2. Steven Dabney    

      I have been using the program for 3 years now and in the beginning it was rough to get it all going the right way.
      Just make sure V.A provider (your nurse) knows it first.
      Then they will put in the order to get it started.

    3. James Robertson    

      This program is a waste of tax payers money. I have tried to use this program 4 times, a big waste of time and nothing happens. The folks at the choice program just sit on their butts and don’t do anything…..

    4. Glenn Martin    

      BS, I’ve used it many times with No problems on the VA side of the house. The small problems
      I had we from Non VA Doctors Office NOT knowing how to correctly Bill the VA for payment,
      once the doctors office worked out their error’s VA PAID Everything.

      1. Sean T. OLeary    

        Thats great you’ve had a perfect experience with the Choice program but calling everyone else’s stories BS is just ignorant. Come on we’re all veterans here. And believe me your one good experience (or however many times) is stacked with probably 12 stories of those of who haven’t had it easy.

    5. Arlan Dohrmann    

      Trying to move Veterans to non-VA physicians and facilities, definitely puts the Veteran at the bottom of the heap.
      Correctly, VA has realigned Colorado, as I am assigned to Cheyenne Wyoming rather than Denver for Hospital Care and for clinical services Ft. Collins. Cheyenne is a little farther drive than Denver, but less traffic. Ft. Collins is only 20 miles away versus Denver 39. I have not had long wait times for appointments at all since I moved to Colorado in 2013.

    6. Anne K Hofferkamp    

      For those of us making annual follow-up appointments we make a follow-up at the same time. It is absolutely insane that Veterans Choice has to make the appointment for us. All this program does is give jobs to political cronies when a fee basis did the job. The entire program is nuts.

    7. Yuvonne Wilson    

      The program is good for getting you an appointment however I am still fighting a $400 bill from AZ Tech Radiology bill that was never paid by the VA and/or Tri-West even though they pre-authorized me to go. I have my Choice card and all my paper authorizations and confirmations from them. This has been on going for over a year now and just recently, AZ Tech Radiology sent the bill to collections because they still haven’t been paid. So now I’m being harassed by a collection agency, my credit score has dropped and no one at the VA (Phoenix, AZ) seems to be able to assist me with this problem. If they aren’t going to pay, why send us to NON-VA providers and stick us with the bills? The program originally sounded great to me, until I used it only once….and look where they have left me up to this point.

    8. DMATT1948@YAHOO.COM    

      AND A 100% DISABLED VETERAN DOES NOT QUALIFY IF HE LEAVES 3/10 OF A MILE OVER THE 40 MILE STIPULATION AND 80 MILES, ONE WAY, FROM THE NEAREST HOSPITAL. ALL, IN MY AREA, HAVE BEEN DENIED USE OF THIS PROGRAM. THE VA WILL TELL WHY.. I HAVE BEEN THE SYSTEM FOR OVER 40 YEARS AND VETS HAVE ALWAYS GOTTEN SCREWED BY IT. THEY HIRE MOSTLY NON-VETERANS, RETIRED OR NON-AMERICAN MEDICAL PERSONAL. EACH HOSPITAL IS BUDGETED X AMOUNT OF DOLLARS AND IF THE HOSPITAL DOES NOT USE IT ALL, THE ADMINISTRATOR IS PAID A 10% FEE OF THE MONIES NOT USED. THEY HAVE BEEN THROUGH SO MANY “SECRETARY’S” THAT I HAVE LOST COUNT. WHY? THEY WON’T LET THEM RUN IT, IT RUNS THEM. WE WERE TOLD THAT WE HAD TO BUY “OBAMA CARE”, BUT IT WON’T PAY AS MUCH AS MEDICARE SUPPLEMENTS. SCREWED IS SCREWED AND NO ONE CAN OR WILL FIX A BROKEN SYSTEM. GOVERNMENT INACTION IS WORKING WELL AT THE VA!!!!!

    9. Theresa Goad    

      You are correct, and VA is not see up to pay doctors in a timely manner if at all. I also can’t pay for a costly script, then wait 45 days or longer for reimbursement whenever my SS check doesn’t even cover my rent. Doctors don’t want to get involved with this mess..

  2. Richard DeZago    

    Too bad the Veterans Choice Program does NOT work. The people that have been contracted to run this program don’t have a clue and could care less.

    1. Marcellus Frank Stuck    

      I won’t say they don’t care, it’s more the fact that they do not understand how the system works. My doctor also I am not able to use veterans choice because he is within 40 miles.so when They lock the place up at 4:30 in the afternoon I am just out of luck.

    2. Roger K Growden    

      You are absolutely correct. It does NOT work. I called the Choice number and they said I need a referral from the VA Dr. I called the Dr. and was told to call the Choice Number. I left a message and didn’t get a call back for a week. No one knows what they’re doing.

    3. Eric Roberts    

      exactly…they are pretty clueless

  3. Bryon deaven    

    I have been using the choice program since it started and I thought the va was bad. The choice program is a joke. The government pays triwest billions of dollars to mismanage our care. Just like the va does! It doesn’t help when non-va care at the local va hospitals are understaffed and can’t process requests within a reasonable amount of time. The va in San Francisco is still process requests from may and June of this year. What happened to being seen in 30 days? Every time I have been “farmed out” I have had to stay on top of everything, even my so called “va pcp”. She sits on requests for non va care for weeks at a time before they are even sent to non-va care. Instead of the va wasting billions of dollars, why doesn’t the va just allow us to pick our own insurance with 100% coverage so we can find our own quality providers in the community. As far as that is concerned, doctors would be more willing to take on va patients if: 1. The paperwork wasn’t such a hassle 2. If the va actually paid their bills. I can’t even tell you how many times I have been turned into collections because the va doesn’t pay their bills within a reasonable amount of time.

    Bryon D. Rohnert park, ca

    1. Paul Green    

      I would like to see answers to these questions made4 public.

      1. Debbie Wilson    

        I agree totally. My son went to Iraq and hasn’t been the same since. He has had cancer, shoulder replacement, hip replacement, throat bleeding, swollen feet, blood transfusions, etc I have even written to Pres. Trump. As a mother I wish I could give them all a piece of my mind.
        Your prayers are with you,
        Debbie Wilson

      2. Liz    

        I would like to hear the answers too!! I have my local VA denying VCP stating the VA needs to hold onto Choice $$ so it can later be deemed discretionary Spending dollars. I can’t get care at VA and denied VCP, we need a junk yard dig guarding that money for us Vets, not Bonuses for Administrators.

  4. steve froemming    

    This program is a joke. Sounds good but doesn’t function.

  5. Ron Favors    

    This program is a joke.

    1. Roger K Growden    

      I did get a Choice program appointment with a Non VA provider once, but the appointment was a week further than the VA appointment that was way over 30 days. IT does not work!

    2. Emme Barra    

      Veterans Choice has been better than I thought it would be. My husband had a card for 2 yrs and didn’t know what to do with it. Now he was able to get chiropractic care and physical therapy for his back pain which VA had been trying to care for for years and finally listened to him and let him go to chiro. So mow he has no more back pain , monthly visits , and better yet it only took 4 months for him to get better!
      Yeah Trump for signing Veterans Choice bill!!!

  6. Michael Olson    

    My VA DR. is afraid to get in trouble writing prescriptions I need , but other DR’s have have to write them for me. So if I keep other insurance up, cost me hundreds of dollars a month, I don’t need VA. I would rather have VA doctor who is not afraid to be my doctor, able to give me the proper meds. Help my DR. Please.

  7. Bill R Duncan    

    Arkansas, which has to of the top 10 VA hospitals in the nation, is doing an awesome job with choice program. I have had 2 surgeries outside of VA and have had excellent care.

  8. Lee Sorenson    

    The VA Choice program has worked for me. I had to walk the Choice folks through what I needed. It is best to be responsible for your own care.

  9. Thomas M Faunce    

    No one knows what’s going on.

  10. Jim Barrett    

    The VCP program doesn’t work. It’s just more bureaucratic BS. It was created by the political leaches to ‘sooth’ over some
    ‘bad’ press from a ‘so-called’ problem.

    Instead of helping the Veterans, they’ve added another step in the acquisition of health care in the private sector.

    Previously, if you need care in the private sector, your primary care physician sent your consult to the area VAMC and the local VA personnel then would proceed to procure care from a private provider.

    Now the VAMC has to forward the consult, after they approve it, on to the VCP. Simply an additional step in the veteran procuring care that may or may not be available to him from the VA from the private provider.

    Don’t tell me how great it is. It’s nothing more than the political leaches in DC adding more political leaches to procure votes for themselves from the new hires and people in the private sector who ‘believe’ that the veteran is being helped.

  11. Kathleen Scarpati    

    You really want to make veterans feel better. Assist with teeth repair. Not if you only have 100% disability. Yes a cut of point maybe 60% disability. Most people at that point can’t work due to various reasons and cannot afford dental. Some of the medications cause dental problems, left to the veteran to try and get dental care. I would bet my disability check that dental care is almost as much of a problem as PTSD. The free services offered you never hear about until afterwards. I heard I called, nothing available for 2 years and closest spot would be in Alabama.. I live in Central Florida.

    1. Rich Katanich    

      The teeth thing is a big, big deal. I am one of those who has major tooth problems generally due to meds from PTSD and whatever Agent Orange does to the human body. Your correct, forget dental help of any kind unless your 100% service connected. I’d rather have them install implants and back off some other area of treatment. I can’t eat much nor be real social the way my teeth have fallen out. Its a fucking disaster, V A dental plan. Non-exist-tant!!!!

    2. D Gonzalez    

      I second this motion for dental work, why 100%? Don’t need my teeth to much by then? I need the work now. I don’t understand why the huge gap, are we not all veteran’s.

  12. Glen A. Koelling    

    I called to get an appointment with a doctor and was told I would have to contact the VA hospital more than 3 hours drive from my home with very little and inconvenient parking. Called the hospital and they had a recorded message that they were not taking calls at this time and for me to leave my name and number. Left my name and number and never received a return call. To me, the VA has always been and still is the worst enemy the disabled veteran has.

  13. Cornell Christian    

    I am a veteran and had an emergency while more than forty miles from a VA facility.my choice card
    enabled me to have the surgery that I needed at
    no cost to me. Com on, give the VA credit when and
    where it’s due. Thanks VA for being there when I needed you.

  14. Maria Sanchez    

    I live 90 miles from the nearest VA facility. They made me an appointment with a doctor outside the VA. It took more than thirty days to schedule the appointment which was nearly 60 days from the initial request. Then the outside provider had to cancel my appointment. It has been rescheduled for the end of December! This is NOT better!

    1. Jeffrey Browne    

      I am of course very glad that you were able to be taken care of. As a fellow Disabled veteran I would not want it any other way. But instead of gloating why don’t you get on board and help the 9 out of 10 veterans who get (redacted) for service. I am sure you know this.

      Thank you
      Jeff

  15. Roxanne Evans, North Dakota    

    I have used this program twice and have not had any problems. The clinic was somewhat confused about how to bill because the program is new to them also. It took a little bit of patience, but got the billing squared away. It could be very beneficial to many others once the “bugs” are worked out.

  16. Michael Olson    

    Please give VA doctors a break, to treat veterans with indicated medicine, without pressure of loosing their credentials, to keep good doctors at the VA. We do not need puppet Doctors , that is where we are heading.

    1. Roger K Growden    

      I have to say that the care I have received from the VA Drs. has been good. Getting the appointment is the problem, which is in part due to the lack of Drs. I drive 1 1/2 hrs to the VA hospital in Chicago for the ortho clinic that only has appointments one day a week. Then wait 1-2 hrs. to see the one and only Dr. He is very good, but is the only one, consequently, I have to make follow up appointments that are about 30 days out, then go through the whole process again. I’d think in a large metropolis like Chicago, there would be more than just one.

  17. Anthony Fromm    

    I have never had a problem getting an appointment within 30 days. The problem is they make the appointment then call me and cancel it, then list me as a no show! Now I live over 40 miles away from the VA Hospital, but since I have a VA Clinic not far away I am told I can not use my VA Choice card. But the VA Clinic can not perform any medical procedures beyond putting on a band aid and doing blood and urine samples. When I go to the Clinic the parking lot is full, but it’s full of employee cars. My Doctor actually my Nurse Practitioner (they can’t keep doctors) has an Nurse Assistant and an admin person that works for her. Then at the reception desk there are 5 people, and I check in on a computer! I would love to see Veterans just get a Blue Cross insurance card so we can go see a real doctor. The VA’s Hospitals big claim to fame is it has 25 miles of hallways, and has been having construction going on for years!

  18. robert mcleod    

    The choice program is a great idea but is terrible. Ive waied longer for appts, surgery etc than tge VA. Poor communication between VA and choice. I ended up waiting 90 days for choice. By that time my surgery was done at VA. The VA and chice need to get their act together. Its really unfortunate that a great idea is not managed well. Im VERY DISAPPOINTED but who really cares anyway. I should have expected this.

    Oh well!

  19. Jerri Mentzer    

    We are both Veterans we are in .CA temporary. My husband had a heart attack abt 2 years ago. It took me 52 phone calls to get him a follow up appointment here. I finally got us into the choice 40 program here but I had to call our congressman. So if you have problems. Call your congressman he/She will make it work for you.

  20. James Miles    

    VA healthcare at VA facilities is cumbersome to use at best but Choice is as bad as a government bureaucracy gets. Tried to get a quick appointment thru Choice to replace my lost glasses but it took 45 days, was twice as far away, found out that I was only authorized an eye test and had to travel to my regular VA hospital to get the frames and have them made. Next time after numerous phone calls I made an appointment at a nearby private doctor who upon arrival told me VA did not send my records so he could not see me. No more Choice for me.

  21. Larry michael alderink    

    What good is a choice card when a clinic is around 40 miles away i have to drive 120 miles for eye care i pay my own for bypass surgery or eye surgery plus on the day u go in u have to wait 8 hours for trainees to experiment on u nashville va is worthless

  22. Kimmanda Collins    

    I just had a baby and I had no issues with my provider. Yes, some billing issues arose but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how long they take to pay, just as long as I don’t have to.

  23. William Anness    

    I am not currently signed up with the VA’s Choice program. After reading the comments on this board, I’m not even sure it would be worth all of the hassle. The VA program, over all, has NOT lived up to the promises made when we signed up as “cannon fodder”. I have had very few providers with in the VA structure that actually care and are qualified. Mostly PA’s that could care less. Had high hopes. Maybe in the future, we will get quality care in a timely manner!

  24. Kathy Skipper    

    Whats really sad about the VA and all of its programs? My husband was moved from the Hospital to a VA State Nursing Home and the VA ONLY pays a per diem on his daily care….even though for the last 9 years he has been covered under the VA 100% for all his medical needs! This also included special care that was subcontracted out because the VA Hospital was short in providers for his care. I am nearly bankrupt!!!! Why won’t they pay for one of their own as they have in the last months of his life,,,,,,,,I am so frustrated ! Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Soon before I am completely devoid of anything!

  25. Ronald Franck    

    I went to the Durham VA to see a surgeon about a pretty severe and painful inquinal hernia in early December 2015 and was told that the earliest I could have surgery was mid-March 2016 so I contacted the VCP and received one excuse after the other. The VCP personnel said the VA hospital had not submitted the proper paperwork so I contacted the hospital and was told they had submitted the proper forms but agreed to resubmit and of course once again the VCP personnel said they never received it. I went back and forth several times with them and finally gave up. I ended up having to wait until the March date to have the surgery at the VA. One week after I had the surgery, VCP sent me a letter saying I had been approved for surgery
    with the non-VA surgeon. I called the VCP and told them “thanks for nothing”.

  26. Joseph Hitzel    

    This program would work if the people running it cared enough!! I live in Georgia, And the closest VA Hospital is OVER 200 miles away and the nearest Clinic is 40 miles, This whole project is another big waste of time and money.

  27. Ausby Mitchell    

    The Choice Program have work out great for me, I have been going to two difference Doctors and neither have complaint about payments or my on going visits.

  28. John Foster    

    The Not a Choice program! I called the VA hospital, 52 miles away, for an radiology appointment. Was asked if I wanted to go Choice and get it done closer to home. Sure, why not? The Choice provider would call me I was told. Two weeks later while at the VA hospital, I had the x-rays done as a walk-in. The Choice provider never did call.

    Note: It is not a choice and you are referred to a “Choice provider.” A Vet from my city said the “Choice provider” set him up with an appointment 80 miles away, actually, literally, 30 miles PAST the VA hospital!

    “Choice” sounds good in the news but it often not a reasonable choice. Sounds good in the news and politicians, including Shulkin, can talk about doing more for the Vet but it ain’t real, This is BS and eyewash.

  29. Robert I Spengler    

    The Choice program has worked well for me here in Wyoming. I needed to walk the choice phone contacts through some of the details of where I wanted to be treated but beyond that, it has been slow but fine. The Dr’s that have taken care of an eye problem and a prostate biopsy have been top notch. Our VA clinic in Riverton WY is also tops. Good capable staff, doctors, nurses, and counselors. They have all been extremely veteran focused and respectful.

  30. Andrea Jones    

    I have had only good experiences with the Choice Program and TricWest. Surgery needed, no problem, second opinion needed by private specialist, no problem. Why don’t you just PAY for private insurance and quit complaining. Adjust your attitude and you just may get the care you need.
    #VAUSER

  31. Jody Cabanaw    

    Veterans Choice Plus is not different then waiting for an appointment at the VA, it took over 3 months to finally hear back from them and by that time I was hurting so bad I had to go ahead and have surgery which they did NOT pay. This program is a joke. Just another failed program for the veterans!!!!!

  32. Stan Lightner    

    I have absolutely zero use for the VCP. Nothing but a bureaucratic nightmare with l o n g wait times. Was dropped by my pulmonologist due to lack of payment by TriWest.

  33. LA Working    

    This is what President Trump installed an idiot who doesn’t have a clue on whats going on with veterans health care problems a retired general who has never had to use VA health clincs or hospitals why didn’t he put a Sargent Major or First Sargent in charge of the VA someone who has more experience with enlisted people who are the major users of the VA Hospitals as for the Choice Program it’s bag of hogwash I have since bought private health insurance and a prescription plan and no longer use the VA system I’m tired of waiting months at time to see a Dr. if that’s what you want to call them.

  34. Dianna Dibenedetto    

    I am a VA Choice Provider. The local CBOC has called and thanked our office for pro bono devices over the years; however, the clinic will not allow veterans to have PTSD treated in our office. Thank you Tricare for your trust in our services. We have worked with trauma for 30 years and supervised the local Vet Center at one point when there were significant personyissues. Our clinicians have interned through the VA and the PH.D’s are retired from the US Army. We will continue to serve our military.

  35. David Fitchpatrick    

    The choice Plan works for me, where I live in FL I have no problems with the VA service.

  36. James Edward Davidson    

    I live at the same address in Ruston, La. that I have lived sense moving here. In Feb.,2016 I was a Choice 40 member, now all of a sudden I am only a Choice member. I have not moved and that fine building in Monroe has not moved. I just want to know how I got moved from Choice 40 to Choice.

  37. Raymond Sexton    

    Veterans Choice program could work however not on the backs of Vererans who are receiving Individual Unemployability….Trump want to eliminate IU when you reach social security age so you only receive SS….so….if a veteran is PTSD 70% and IU 30% receiving approx 3k….. he wil loose the 30% bringing him down to approx 1200-1400……What a screw job that would be….I hope their building more bridges so the effected Veterans have a place to sleep at night……Where are the congressmen sleeping tonight…..ill bet not under a bridge….VietVet 1968-1972

  38. Richard Stoll    

    Wow! Maybe just the ones who don’t know how to work the system are allowed to post here. I was a consultant in the med biz for 20 years in 20 some countries, parents were both Drs, also my daughter so I am very experienced with the good, bad and ugly of the industry.

    Here’s my take: I’ve had a lot of care through both the VA and VCP and found the service to be excellent. Granted, I have a Ph.D and am capable of researching my own conditions and therapies to make sure I’m getting the right service, but with 18 surgeries etc, etc, one would think I would have had a lot of frustrating issues like those listed above – but no, I haven’t. And I would bet that the above grippers would probably be griping about everything in their lifes and would be gripping about non-VA service just like they are here.

  39. Ron Ankney    

    We already have puppet Doctors at the VA! Just try getting one to provide you with an indicated and FDA approved drug used by millions, but not on the “VA approved list” – and the answer will always be “No” In the same vein, a VA physician who freely admits that Medical Marijuana would be indicated in your situation, is forbidden to approve it’s use tfrom a Government approved dispensary! I can imagine that they are even more frustrated by this than the suffering Veteran.

  40. Edward Mullery    

    I have used the Choice program 3 times now here in Phoenix AZ, yes Phoenix. Couldn’t be more happier. This program does work. Thank you VA for getting it right, finally!!!!

  41. John Cossey    

    I have been using VA Choice program now for about 3 months for pain management and physical therapy I havery had nothing but very good care and timely visits the VA is trying where I live to do what is right I just wished it was all over like this keep it up guys

  42. shannon vanas    

    I have used the Choice program and have never had one problem and received top notch care the whole time. It was very helpful to be near home for surgery after care and appreciate the program.

  43. Robert Hillaker    

    What about when one is on Vacation and there is no VA Facilities??

  44. James Tobleck    

    What choice,the 40 mile rule for a empty office, no xray, no meds, useless except to disqualify vets from real doctors. VA has failed me for 41 years . Never fixed rotator cuff, total knee replacement, hell can’t even get me continuious medicine with out missing week or more . Won’t refill till out causing week or more delays in receiving them. My cops is killing me and the the Vas hurrying my demise. The stress of daily dealing with morons who don’t care has to stop. 22 deaths a day and no one asks why.

  45. C.J. Atchley    

    Great all around care.

  46. Jon L Kelsey    

    Good luck on getting VA to go along with the Choice Program. If you want to see a specialist and live within 40 miles of a VA facility with a full time doctor (not the specialist you need), you are going to be turned down. VA – don’t fight it, fix it. We veterans didn’t join up and say we would defend our country only on our conditions.

  47. Gary    

    Unfortunately, Most of the previous comments are correct. The Choice Program is a waste of taxpayers money. I’ve been waiting 4 months to see a Gastroenterology doctor and still don’t have an appointment. This is pathetic.

  48. Tamata    

    Closest not closet! I use to be a proof reader!

    1. T    

      I have a friend who said she is happy with the program.

  49. John Edwards    

    We just found out the town we moved to has a VA doctor’s office. My husband was glad he wouldn’t have to drive so far to see a VA doctor. He saw her this week, and was really disappointed. He couldn’t understand her at all, and she couldn’t understand him. He wasn’t sure what country she was from, he thinks she said Somalia. I don’t understand why the VA hires doctor’s that can’t speak English.

  50. Tamata    

    A friend uses this program and she is happy.

  51. walter pelton    

    the va medical system should be closed/just give everyone medicare…duh.

  52. Charles Rossier    

    In New Hampshire I have heard a number of complaints about Veterans Choice. Primary being that the VA doesn’t pay the doctors and hospitals so the providers won’t take veteran patients. Two years ago I received emergency care outside the VA and it took nearly two years for the VA to pay with most invoices being rejected multiple times for various false reasons. Fortunately I was not turned away by the hospitals and left to die. The billing departments of the providers took care of being persistent until payment was received.

    Before entering the VA system I was refused treatment by a surgeon until I paid in advance. I managed to work out a deal to get limited treatment. A year later the surgeon retired and moved to the Cayman Islands to live near his bank account and with his 19 year old receptionist. And I entered the VA system. NOT all doctors are like him and anyone who finds one through the Choice program should run to find a doctor who puts the patient before the gold.

  53. Don    

    VA Choice program is just a waste of taxpayers’ money. Plainly speaking-it does not work. The money spent on the Choice program would be better spent investing it into the regular VA Health Care program. Choice is an example of the government pouring good money into a program that just doesn’t work.

  54. Mike Krzeszewski Tv8g    

    Does not work. I have been approved for acupuncture and my visits ended, I’ve been waiting for approx 3 months.
    I have tried numerous times and so has provider.
    The system does not work. Please help veterans.

  55. Gail Cabildo    

    I have used the Veterans Choice Program twice and have not had any problems with the bills being paid.
    Yes, it does take a while for a Doctor to see you, but even at outside medical facilities, you have to wait to be seen by a Doctor, and mistakes are also made. I am very thankful for my VA Healthcare.

  56. Thomas Henry Music    

    I am a missionarý over half way down in Mexico. I need to know why my choice care doesn’t work here it is over 40 miles. We have a clinic here Lakeside medical who takes tri care. But I can’t get the same hospitalization.

  57. Wm. Davis Belote    

    I have had the same problem as others with the choice program , with the VA not paying for doctor ordered stuff . It messed up my credit rating causing it to drop 125 points because they didn’t pay for the test to make sure that they got all of the basil cell carcinoma that the doctor cut off of my back. After two years of not paying, the hospital sent the $241.00 bill to collections. I paid it

  58. gary bakka    

    Prosthetics what a joke tried to get shoes keep sending letters to come in for fitting called them no answer call log full can’t leave message gd going trump

  59. Herman McConico    

    I have used the Veteran Choice Program and have great success. I had one problem with the scheduling but that was quickly cleared up. I think this process is working great. I live in Kansas and I used the Leavenworth facility. In addition I have an excellent doctor. So I say give credit where credit is due. I appreciate the employee at the Leavenworth. Keep up the good work. Many of us are being helped because of your professionalism and dedication

  60. CHARLES L SHAW    

    The eligibility criteria “Your residence is more than a 40 mile driving distance from the closest VA medical facility with a full time primary care physician” needs to be changed to read “… with the specialty or service available to address your VA determined medical need”. I.E., if you need to see a specialist such as a hematologist, orthopedist, etc., or need treatment such as chemotherapy, and such is not available at “… the closest VA medical facility”, you are SOL as far as access to the VCP if you happen to live closer than 40 miles from a VA primary care physician.

  61. James Hartsell    

    I just got onto the program and I think it is GREAT. I call them and they answer the phone right away and they call me back in just a few days telling me they have an appointment for me. I tried to call different doctors in July to get an appointment for a PCP and the earliest I could find was in late September. I called the Choice people and they found a doctor for early August. I live in Hawaii and so difficult to find a doctor right away.

  62. Mark A Nelson    

    This program is useless the veterans Choice program people do not call back they do not make appropriate arrangements it is nothing but a pain in my ass. If the congressman and Senators had to use a health program like this it would get changed instantly stop with the b******* of how good this program is and tell the public the truth. 22 years of service with combat tours, and this is the thanks we veterans get.???

  63. William L. Pollock Jr.    

    this program is fine in some aspects only. it does help as far as mileage is concerned however if it is an emergency you have to pay for Dr. and all medicines. this program program does not cover if you do not call in and get a confirmation number. I have bills in hundreds of dollars that the VA will not cover just because a confirmation number was obtained. I am 100% services connected and we veterans should not have to pay for medical bills and medicines just because of a confirmtion number is needed every time you need to go to the Dr.

  64. James Tobleck    

    Day 4 with no sleep , no meds continue. Useless even to write this . Not one of Washington VA does a damn thing to fix my situation with the B.C. beauracrates who hire and promote morons. Send me another million $ survey on how bad our doctors and nurses are and as a whole most are just trying to keep their jobs under insane rules that destroy trust in THE System. Please send me a survey on management and I’d sure let you know how piss poor our Hospital, Pharmacies are run . Let’s include Detroit John Dingell, VBA Detroit, thousands of pages of waste, lost 200 + x Ray, countless vets who have lost all hope in a fair deal with the VAN, VHA. Resort to killing themselves instead of you the problems in Management.

  65. Glenn Martin    

    What VA are you people using, What State. I have NOT had any of these problems and I’ve been using the VA over 10 years now and they have always treated me fine.

  66. Lorenzo Casarez    

    The VA is the veteran’s best choice. It spends much money and time in getting us well. Compared to other countries, the VA in the United States is the Platinum choice. The VCP is new. The change will be for the best. The program will succeed if we are patient and give it a chance. It has worked for me. The VA has always treated me with respect and professionalism. The VA has taken care of many of my minor health issues and, has been there when I was seriously ill. Thank you doctors, nurses, and staff of the El Paso, Texas VA.

  67. Mark    

    I called my senator (Patty Murray) I got a veterans choice Dr. That day. The Dr. was excellent. I had surgery one week later. Don’t be afraid to call your senator . I found the Democratic elected officials to care about us veterans. My congressman a Republican didn’t even have even have the courtesy to return my call.

  68. Harriett Lambert    

    I would like too know what benefits I have being a parent of deceased veteran??

  69. Dwayne Brown    

    All I ever hear or read about is how the majority of you whine and complain about the VA. You are all a bunch of unhappy vets that just like to cry. Grow up and be the man you should be. The VA has treated me in the most respectful way and has NEVER failed me.

  70. Allie Burgin    

    ( can’t get remote care because facility is only 38 miles from where I live) Visited the VA annex with symptoms of rapid heartbeat. Was told needed to get more sleep and given sleep medicine. I ask for a EKG and was told they didn’t think it was necessary. Went for 2nd opinion to a local Dr.who immediately ordered a blood workup for anemia, consulted with a cardiologist who ordered an EKG and a Echocardiogram, and set me up with cardiologist appointment. Echocardigram showed that I was in A fib and that heart was not getting proper impulses put me on anticoagulant and a beta blocker. Visited VA hospital in OKC and talked to VA advocate about letting my local Dr. Treat me and was told I didn’t live far enough away from the Ardmore clinic.
    So my situation is I can’t get the proper treatment at the Ardmore clinic but I can’t get local treatment under VA.

  71. Kurt Heisler    

    What is the reason for the 40 mile limit? With a once a week appointment that would be 2080 miles a year with a cost of $1,123.20 (based on 2016 rate of .54/mile). My experience with VCP: Called VCP and gave them the information regarding needed surgery and waited for them to call me back. Called back a week later and they suggested I find a doctor myself. I did. One ex Air Force doctor. Others would not accept VCP because they had difficulty getting paid. Side bar: Right after, while waiting to see my Primary Care doctor, I asked the Physical Therapist if she could help with the issue requiring surgery. I got a referal from my doctor, saw the Therapist, she treated me and I did not need the surgery! Whoops! Treatment was right across the hall! I did have an MRI locally because the VA did not have an Open MRI and a type of Ultrasound prescribed by my Vascular Surgeon that the VA did not have. Both of these were scheduled by the local VA. To be fair, the VA is trying but I think they should be more flexible until they fix their problems. The present Administration is dealing with decades of systemic abuse, grandizment and bureaucracy. This will take time. Question? Wasn’t the VAH originally set up only for veterans with service connected issues?

  72. Richard Sylvia    

    1. Has anyone had experience with using Choice in an emergency and needs to go to the hospital emergency room that is close by immediately instead of the VA hospital?
    This would pertain to ‘medical condition’ I assume.

    From this article entitled ’10 things to know about the Veterans Choice Program’: (Eligibility, 4th point):
    “You face an unusual or excessive burden in traveling to the closest VA medical facility based on a geographic challenge, environmental factor, medical condition, or other specific clinical decisions. Staff at your local VA medical facility will work with you to determine if you are eligible for any of these reasons.

    2. Different topic: Dental
    Does any dental care provider work with the VA so vets can purchase dental insurance at a discounted rate? Thought Delta Dental (live in CA) did, but person at VA said no longer.

  73. David D. White    

    What happened to my comments???

  74. Shirley August    

    I hate this program. I used it for a mammogram and a pre-op abdominal ultrasound, told the providers at check-in time that it was covered by the VA. In fact, the mammogram appointment was made on a 3-way call with me, VA, and the local care provider, and the local provider called me to make the ultrasound appointment, yet I’m now getting bills and told I need to provide the explanation of benefits from the VA to get out of paying the balance, AFTER I gave them the pre-authorization numbers. What EOB? The letter I get saying “We’ve paid $30 of the $600 bill. You are not responsible for the balance.”? They really need to work on better coordination between the VA and providers. I’d have been better off driving the 2 hours to have the imaging in Milwaukee.

  75. Brad Johnston    

    It works for me. Be a patient patient and you can make it work for you too. Silver Platters are way out of style. Help them help you and it will all smooth out in due course. They have LOTS of people to take care of, and you’re not first in line. Who’s army did you serve in where they let you be first in line?
    .brad.sunday.30july2017.

  76. Eric Roberts    

    What a load of crap. Yeah…my primary care doctor at an outpatient clink is 10 miles away but all of the X-ray and other specialty doctors are 60 miles away. This is useless piece of (redacted). Great way to (redacted) over veterans as usual…

  77. Paul Jerome    

    I have used the VCP for several issues since inception. The ONLY issue I had was scheduling a civilian chiropractor. I saw my VA doctor in mid-December and he said he’d put in the request. I did not get a call until after the first of January. Was it VCP’s fault? Who knows. It very well could have been my VA doctor’s fault. Or it could have been just a delay because of Christmas. So far, I’ve used the program for 2 podiatrists, 3 separate MRI visits, and a chiropractor.

  78. Glen Jones    

    The VA is dysfunctional and. Vetearns choice is a sham I have been refused service when traveling had my va doc since retired refuse to see me because I was seeing a civilian doctor In Dec 2o16 1 fell in snow and ice and broke my hip I was taken to the hospital where I live which is only a mile and a half away had them call the Va va said that I was not preauthorized and should have been taken 70 miles to the VA hospital when the highways and roads were closed down because of the snow and ice, then reported to medicare that I was under veterans choice and medicare would not pay the doctor and hospital bills. Do aware with the VA AND GIVE VETERANS free choice of where to go.

  79. Doyle McCauley    

    I qualify for Veterans Choice Program. I followed the instruction. I am eligible?

    Call the VCP Call Center at 866-606-8198 or visit the Veterans Choice Program website to verify eligibility and set up an appointment here. I did. Called that number and spoke with a ms, Brittany. She said i would have to go through my provider. Tried that a couple of times and that was a no. I explained that to Brittany and was told that is the way it has to be. I explained the e-mail veteransaffairs@public.govdelivery.com i got. She said i had to call my provider. I asked did she work for our VA. She said no, she work for a company called health net {a third party} that just answered question. I am confused. The e-mail i got from my VA says Can I call my non-VA doctor to make an appointment?

    No, please call the VCP call center at 866-606-8198 to verify eligibility and set up an appointment. She said no. What is going on I would like to know. Who is health net and why are they taking money from my VA and they are not our VA.

  80. gerald diamond    

    we always had this but for them paying for it I have one dr that don t charge me he said he spends more billing the v a the he charges ,where I go got worse ann arbor mi .use to be pretty good but always had to waite at least 30 days for an appointment at least now it s worse and you don t want to go to the e r .they are nothing more than a clinic with a bunch of over paid staffers .the best thing they could do for the vets is give everyone a card to go anywhere,and turn the buildings into old folks homes for vets and nurseing homes foe vets semper fi

  81. Bill Hughes    

    I had my right shoulder replaced under the VCCP in 2015 and it was a total nightmare and took two letters to my local Congressional Representative to keep the ball rolling for the ten weeks it took to get everything approved. Then my physical therapy was cut from 12 weeks to six weeks because it took the first six weeks just to get the paperwork approved. I am having my right knee replaced in a little over a week and thankfully I am now old enough to have the same surgeon do the second surgery through Medicare and Tricare.

  82. MARVIN P SANDERS    

    I would like to know if these comments are forward to are representatives,VA,CONGRESSMEN,CONGRESSWOMEN, or our the complainers wasting there time.?

    1. Gary Hicks    

      Mr. Sanders, The comments section is for Veterans to share their experiences, ideas and concerns with each other as well as and the Department. Many VA officials visit the blog and often reach out to us for contact information so they can engage the Veteran or family member directly and privately. As the primary moderator for VAntage Point, I forward egregious comments to the VA program office that is most likely able to help resolve the issue. I do not forward comments to the members of Congress. I will, however, look up their elected officials’ contact information if they ask for it.

      I believe a lot of good has come from these comments: suggestions have sparked action, homeless Vets have found homes, suicidal Veterans found help and many more have found a place to voice their opinions and concerns. I personally do not believe it is a waste of time.

      Those interested in contacting their elected officials can find that information here https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials/

  83. Abigail Thompson    

    I used it for physical therapy and had no problems at all. It worked great for me.

  84. Jerry F. Cupp    

    I worked hard to get VA Choice to allow me a Cardiologist close to home (35 MILES). We finally got it done but my doctor dropped me because he couldn’t get paid after three authorized visits to his office. We ran into the same problem with Spinal Doctors in Southern Colorado (they couldn’t get paid for their services).

  85. Sean T. OLeary    

    My perspective having used the program for multiple issues I can understand where people are angry. Reading many of these responses I’m starting to see the problem, INCONSISTENCY!!! Just like our VA care the system is a mess and choice just happens to follow suite.
    I hate to say it but bureaucracys tend to be bloated underfunded, understaffed orgs with too much red tape. But its the gov. Should we be surprised?
    The problem is rushing this program into place, not giving either side time to promote and/or understand what the program was /is has only made things more confusing. Very few folks have any knowledge of how the program works and who its supposed to work for this includes the outside orgs hired to offer services. When nobody knows what’s going on then chaos takes over. And with chaos comes misinformation and here-say not too mention the “Telephone” effect of Veterans who think they know what’s going on telling other vets false information and not in any malicious way.
    Now there’s a huge mess of now angry Veterans who just want decent healthcare for problems arisen from serving active duty or otherwise. We shouldn’t have to jump thru hoops for our care, I understand we need to advocate for our care but we’ve dealt with more stress than any civilian occupation and what’s wrong with expecting decent care, not special care, not royal treatment but just decent care.
    The VA needs to get back to working as a single entity connecting all the facilities and offering us modern care on modern equipment. The jack off in the WH is willing to spend billions and billions on active duty military units but can’t throw some money towards the VA?
    Why is it the polititions will waste time and taxpayer money taking things away from the country’s people, nickel and diming government institutions including the VA and not focusing on infrastructure to include the Veterans Administration Health care system and the Veterans Administration as an entity?
    For the first time since WWII the country is all for the Vets and everyone out there agrees that we Vets should be taken care of medically just for serving for the rest of our lives. SO WHY THE HELL isnt the VA improving? Why are we still be forced to take the cheapest medication they can buy and refusing us medications that are safer, better and in alignment with our diagnosis? Why was I on one great drug for Addiction that worked amazing! It was impossible to abuse and it was so much easier to administer ? Why were told we no longer could have that medicine? Only to be given less than adequate medication that is hit or miss on working correctly and are absolutely disgusting to take? Why are we being told that THE INHOUSE VA PHARMACYs no longer have ordering control? Why are we being subjected to cheap drugs that dont work as good?
    I digress this forum is about the choice inadequacies. I live in Manchester and dealt with Manchester VA for 20years so Ive got some fire under me about getting what we vets expect. Ill admit the choice program is growing and now with these new changes and funding maybe they will catch up to the level of care we expect as Veterans.

  86. Susan Tyner    

    My husband was rushed to the local hospital ER in February of ’15. We called the VA in Augusta, GA and asked to transfer him there. We were told they had no room, so to keep him local. He was in for about 5 days and we ended up trying to get the bill paid for well over a year. The hospital finally got tired of fighting with them and billed Medicare, which, of course didn’t pay the whole thing. We tried getting the VA to finally cover it, but they turned us down since my husband is not 100% disabled. Only 70%. WHY DIDN’T THEY TELL US THAT 18 MONTHS AGO INSTEAD OF MAKING FALSE PROMISES?????

    His doctors are awesome, the billing office is HORRIBLE!!!!!!

  87. CEW    

    Here’s what you need to know about this ‘choice’ program. Before they enacted this, they reduced the number of physicians at the clinics in anticipation. So, they increased the wait time to see a physician at a VA clinic. I had to wait for 4 months for an appointment at the local clinic. It’s more of the, “We are doing this to make more choices available while providing the very best of care”, BS. It’s actually a loss of benefits. Never believe, “We are the government and are here to help you.”.

  88. JOHN ERNEST BEKASI    

    I AM IN THE PROCESS OF FILING A CLAIM BECAUSE i WAS TOLD THAT IF IT WAS AN EMERGENCY AND WENT TO MY LOCAL HOSPITAL i WOULD BE REIMBURSED FOR THE HOSPITAL BILL AND OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES .IT WAS DENIED I

  89. Gene Hickman    

    I have tried to use the Choice program 5 or 6 times. Once they partially paid for my visit. Twice the VA made the request for me as my local VA does not do the procedure I needed. Neither time did I get the VA make the appointment, finally did it myself and the VA wouldn’t pay. I went through choice to make an appointment with an ENT. About a week before the appointment the VA called to confirm that I had an appointment and the date time. I then went to the appointment. A month later I was on a trip to Southern Utah and did not always have cell service or wifi. Got a message that was a few days old that I had to call Choice and verify my appointment or it would be cancelled. Called and had to leave a message which I did, explaining that I already had the appointment a month before. A day later got the same message to contact choice. Called again and had to leave a message explaining again. Next day another message saying I needed to respond and intimating if I didn’t I may be removed from the Choice program. Again called but could not get through and had to leave a message. Got a call back that the appointment would not be approved.

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