Veterans Choice Reversal Doubles Access To Non-VA Care

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Benjamin Krause

VA publicly announced a reversal of its “crow flies” Veterans Choice policy this week following public outcry after Minnesota news media called out the program. Local KARE 11 News highlighted outrageous impacts of VA’s foul up of the Veterans Choice Card Program.

Paul Walker, a local veteran dying of liver cancer, was unable to use Veterans Choice despite living more than 40 miles from the VA facility where he was required to seek care. The justification was that he lived within 40 miles “as the crow flies.” This is the equivalent of the “straight line” rule VA uses that defies reality or common sense since that distance lacks meaning based on modern roadway travel.

RELATED: Watch initial NBC video with Benjamin Krause and client Paul Walker

Minnesota Senator Al Franken and Rep. Tim Walz demanded answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs about the Veterans Choice Card Program. The call out by these politicians was the result of local news media station KARE 11 calling out the agency by highlighting veterans impacted by the program like Paul Walker.

Initially, the decision seemed like little more than faulty reasoning from an executive branch agency. After further analysis, the American public realized VA’s interpretation of Veterans Choice was the result of calculated deception from Congress as implemented by the agency.

True Veterans Choice would cost taxpayers around $50 billion. So, Congress and the executive branch negotiated the initiation interpretation. This initial interpretation resulted in most veterans not being eligible for the program.

To be eligible, a veteran must live 40 miles from the nearest VA clinic or be required to wait 30 days for an appointment. VA used the “straight line” method of distance measurement, which was not realistic. Now, VA will use a program like Google Maps to measure entitlement to the program.

Isn’t it almost unimaginable that VA would use such an old measure to define new benefits? It is almost as though the agency is saying “do as I say” versus “do as I do.” What will be the next change?

Source: http://www.kare11.com/story/news/investigations/2015/03/24/new-va-rules-after-kare-11-investigation/70401928/

figure8fan
I still think there will be something that will make this card not worth the paper it is printed on. I still would like to know about the 30 day part of it. How is the 30 day rule stated? Is it 30 days from the approval of the (NO) choice card people? 30 days from the VA not being able to make the veteran an appointment within a specified time? I still think finding a Dr. to accept the… Read more »
exile1152
exile1152

They should shit can this idea about mileage and base the program on the needs of the vet.

james
I for one would like to receive all my care at a private doctor for care. It seems that employees are still putting statements about me into my official medical records. Yesterday I went to the Denver VAMC to see a Surgeon. There were 4 people in a small room to ask me Questions. One Question they asked do you Drink ?. I advised them that I ha not touched a single drop of booze or about 7 Seven years.… Read more »
Dan F
Dan F
I am one of the people that live more than 40 miles as the crow flies to the VAMC I use. It is located 44 miles straight line and 68 miles by road. I am not eligible because another VAMC has a clinic which is used for Primary Care, Optometry and lab work is located 37 miles away. As most of you know, you have to be treated at a CBOC which is affiliated with the main VISN you are… Read more »
bullsxxx
bullsxxx
Well put, although everyone semms to forget that if we were supported though law to go to a private practice without interference and all of that was smoothed out to work the way it was intended to work, you can bet the VA wouldn’t pay the private practitioners on a timely basis and not many practitioners would bother with the “VA choice program” and getting stiffed by them.. The VA already pulls stuff like that when they “fee basis” out… Read more »
bob
bob
Bullsxxx, Exactly right on fee basis. Went to ER with heart attack symptoms and VA kept telling me the Hospital and attending Drs. never gave them bills. There is a convenient deadline to submit the bill and the Vet. is prohibited to deliver a copy. WTF? The 3 bills were resent by civilian billing at my request 3 seperate times and still ignored for months. They kindly resent because they were burned in past by VA as well. ( lack… Read more »
Jacko
Jacko

I too have felt the pinch due to the VA welching on payment of my back treatment (spinal decompression) that was VA Fee Basis referred after successful treatment 2+ years of reminders to pay and assurances that the proper paperwork had been completed and payment would be soon. Never paid, the Chyropractor will not take any new or returning Vets.

Rob59
I just finished a cancer treatment at the VA in SLC UT sort of. Being that the VAMC is associated with the Huntsman Cancer Clinic as a teaching hospital. I had all but a single surgery at the the Huntsman Cancer Clinic.Just the luck of the draw. I have a VAMC outpatient clinic 10 miles away. The VAMC is 47 and the Huntsman is 44. So I had to drive every day. But I was lucky enough to be treated… Read more »
Michelle Woznicki
Michelle Woznicki
So, I’m a 100 percent disabled veteran and yesterday I was diagnosed with a stomach tumor. I had the endoscopy via fee basis since I’m about 130 miles from the Tomah VA. The local clinic who did the endoscopy wants a CT scan and sonogram asap. I had to message my primary care doctor at Tomah who won’t be back until next week. I’m also about 25 miles from a CBOC so a choice card won’t work even though the… Read more »
Jacko
Jacko
5 months ago, I paid a visit to the VA ER for a killer painful rotator cuff tare. I was refferred to MRI for imaging and physical therapy was scheduled for over a month later. I pushed the issue and was scheduled to outside MRI facility 3 weeks later, still a very long time. I went to my PT but there was no report or imagry for the therapists to reffer to, so My PT was rescheduled for another month… Read more »
Leatherneck
Leatherneck

Veterans call the Veteran Affairs Committee in Washington, DC tell them your beliefs how to Veterans Healthcare plus email Senator McConnell their him your beliefs how to improve Veterans Healthcare now matter what State you lived in or call by telephone. ..keep calling do not surrender.

Walt
Walt

I am probably wrong, but I thought that one of the eligibility criteria for the Choice program was if the veteran lived more than 40 miles from a “full service” VA medical facility (not just clinics).

Lee Horowitz
Lee Horowitz
The law includes clinics so if you Iive over 40 miles from any VA facility you get choice . As an example I live 3 miles from a VA outpatient clinic and 15 miles from a VA Medical Center but am 50 miles from the Philadelphia VAMC where I can only get the services I need Thus I am only eligible under the 30 day appointment rule The facts are congress needs to pony up 50 billion 100 billion or… Read more »
hepper74
hepper74

Problem with the logic behind the Choice system is that most of us do not go to the clinic for much more than meds or to chat with our PCP. I have yet to see a specialist working in a VA Clinic. This program is nothing more than a slush fund and they cannot believe that people are bitching about their little covert operation. Blatant robbery of the taxpayers and the sheeple who blindly follow their every decision.

hepper74
hepper74
Nope, if you live within 40 miles of a clinic also. The VA has not rectalfied this one yet. When I was told that I had to wait for over 30 days for a Podiatry appt. I told the scheduler to get the ball rolling on the Choice program. Two days later I was scheduled and seen soon thereafter. BUT, the Choice Card person told me that there were exceptions. I told her that that little tidbit had escaped the… Read more »
sean
sean

Has ANYONE on here used the Veterans Choice program? So far I have not heard any reports about how this program is working.

stanley
stanley
I have …fell FEB. 4 2015..HAD TO GO THOUGH CLINIC ASSIGNED TO YOU PRIMARY, HAVE THEM SET UP AN APPT. WITH THERE ORTHO, OR ANY OTHER CLINIC., SO ORTHO IS ALWAY HARD TO GET IN…IF YOUR APPT. HAS WENT OVER THIRTY DAY TO BE SEEN YOU QUALIFY, TO USE THIS PROGRAM…ONCE APPROVED THEY WILL SEARCH FOR YOUR DOCTOR…MIND YOU NOT CARE HOW FAR YOU WILL HAVE TO GO..AND EVEN WHEN SEEN BY THAT DOCTOR YOU CAN ONLY GET SCRIPTS FILLED… Read more »
Larry Smith
Larry Smith
I live60 miles from the VAMC in Atlanta and have used the choice program a couple of times with good results. It’s just like everything else at the VA, you have to follow up on everything yourself. Example: my Dr. Wasn’t paid for six months and I called the choice and got the right billing address to get him paid. I’ve had two major surgerys with excellent results, one was a cancer fight. I don’t believe it the medical care… Read more »
ARNOLD CABRAL
ARNOLD CABRAL

Larry Smight don’t you know by now VA Has Nother for Veterans they for the the mone you and benefits….I know money bull shot walks.

Larry Smith
Larry Smith

I’m sorry Arnold, I don’t understand you comment.

Marilyn Fenwick for James H. Fenwick
I am wife of profound disabled vet, I tried to use this choice card as he qualified for it. Called TriWest, said yes he qualified. Told me who to call, now he needed to see Dr soon as he had pnmonia symptoms. Took him to who they recommended only to be told will not pay becaz has to go through maybe up to seven day qualification every time you want to see Dr. This is most useless program ever that… Read more »
James

The VA knows what their doing and they will use the money for bonuses!

They knew they wanted it derailed! Helping a veteran would mean it works and they are no longer needed, like the black and white t.v.!

If we don’t do something soon, they will do the same thing to our children!

Our government needs action not just words! You hear all the barks and no bites!

Sorry you had to go through what you did!

newday
newday

Took talking to 25 people plus a LONG laundry list of additional hoops over 5 weeks to get my second appointment under the veterans choice program. I’m in bad shape now and beyond disgusted.

Ernest
The VA national bird the “Crow” is dead!! The VA can now eat their CROW!!! What a bunch of idiots at the VA trying to attempt that to skim money off of paying travel miles. Is that going to their bonus money account fund??? If the VA don’t change for the veteran they need to be shut down and all veterans can go to the doctor of their choice and the VA will pay for it and no bonuses will… Read more »
Lee Horowitz
Lee Horowitz
Its not just the VA Its congress It was they who wanted to cut to the bare bones any thoughts of privatization by pouting so many strings on the program so that it would just cost them according to the Congressional Budget Office eta say 2 billion with all the strings versus without any strings 50 billion So the legislators chose to cheat veterans by putting in all the strings and requirements so Choice would not be used Your traditional… Read more »
ian
ian
The va travel handbook makes it clear when paying travel reimbursement it is to go from zip code to zip code or address to address whichever is more favorable to the veteran, they were actually doing this at the denver va as it put my at almost exactly 50 miles (49.53 miles) and I always got paid for 50. I come to southern arizona and the do the exact opposite, they go by what’s more favorable to the VA. In… Read more »
Stephen LeMaster
What a remarkable trick the VA pulled in getting the Veterans Choice legislation enacted! It promised veterans and lawmakers that it could fix problems related to access IF it got about a $25 billion bump in its budget. From this point, it’s been all sleight-of-hand. The biggest mistake that the president and Congress have made is allowing the VA to decide how to administer this program. Despite the agency’s egregious misconduct over the years, the executive and legislative branch seemed… Read more »
namnibor
Isn’t rather ironic that the VA immediately (and Sec. McDonald, as few days ago as well) now states “…it will cost the program MORE money…”…when according to the VA’s own maligned assessment, “Veterans rather use the VA and are happy with it rather than outside care…” (paraphrased)? So logic dictates that left to VA Math, since nobody was really using it, that was GRAVY for their own use…now that their caught with their asses in air, they somehow use same… Read more »
Don Karg
Don Karg
03/29/2015 Dear Benjamin Krause, Monday will be a big day for Senator Baldwin. Here is something not to forget: THIS IS BEFORE THE DISASTER BROKE OUT http://www.wisn.com/news/south-east-wisconsin/milwaukee/4-charged-in-milwaukee-va-hospital-drug-investigation/24861946 By Nick Bohr BIO 4 charged in Milwaukee VA Hospital drug investigation UPDATED 6:12 PM CST Mar 07, 2014 MILWAUKEE —Charges have been filed against four people involved in a drug investigation at Milwaukee’s veterans hospital. • MULTIPLE EMPLOYEES AT MILWAUKEE’S VA CENTER UNDER… WISN 12 News has learns of a criminal investigation… Read more »
Robert Meacham
Robert Meacham
There is so much negative facts I would like to relate, but it would take hours. A couple of points is that I am blind in left eye due to wrong treatment by VA Palo Alto. I had a blood vein growing near the retina & they did not have a specialist that could treat it, so they made an appointment with, & had the outside doctor come in & treat me at the VA facility. He did not have… Read more »
Melissa Kramer
Melissa Kramer
I have been going to the Minneapolis va since 2010; which started on my two week leave from my Basra Iraq deployment tour in January. I had a colonoscopy which found a wild type malignant tumor in my sigmoid colon. It was progressed to stage 3. My tumor had burst resulting in blood in my bowel movements. This would happen only occasionally with no pattern of when I would have blood in my stool. Dr. Spencer performed surgery on my… Read more »
richard
richard

To Robert meacham, you need file a tort 94 against the VA. If you are not sure what I’m talking about get hold of an attorney that specializes in such type of suits or action. You can’t sue the doctor but you can sue the VA. This coming from a retired vet rep.

Jade Helm
There are two programs administered by contractors TriWest and Health Net for the Veterans Administration. The programs are the Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) initiative and the Veterans Choice Program. To be eligible for the Veterans Choice Program, a veteran must live 40 miles from the nearest VA clinic or be required to wait 30 days for an appointment. So for Veteran Paul Walker ,who lives near a VA Clinic, and other Veterans like him they are not eligible for the… Read more »
Doc
Doc
That’s really a very Bad “CHOICE” so here we go again. Another crony of the AZ “sin-ator” who has Homestead his position in the “sin-ate”… I wonder how much dinero or campaign contributions big Mc got from these yahoos. Can anyone expose him on this because TRIWEST SUCKS & VETS CHOICE IS AN ULTIMATE PUKE-UP FAILURE. I got 3 calls in 1 day from these idiots, they wanted me to give them my personal info by phone but I asked… Read more »
Handcannon72vet
Handcannon72vet

Jon Stewart (Not his name) Often takes shots at Southerners etc, Maybe a Dose of “Tooth Cancer” would keep his stupidass mouth shut, Or a well placed right cross snapping that slack Jaw out of alinement so he could take his Broth thru a straw would be “FUNNY” I`ll be MORE Than Happy, To do it if someone can get me within reach. “Anything for a Laugh” I Despise that SOB. No not bitter, Just hate a smartass.

Eric Rolston
Maybe a dose REALITY will bring you up into the 21st century. Please cite examples were Jon Stewart actually discriminates against “southerners”. Jon has done more to expose the VA farce then anyone on public TV. He even runs a program to get vets into the TV industry. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/26/arts/television/jon-stewart-iraq-war-critic-runs-a-program-that-helps-veterans-enter-tv.html?_r=0 Yep, he really hates veterans, especially SOUTHERN vets…..REALLY????? “Or a well placed right cross snapping that slack Jaw out of alinement so he could take his Broth thru a straw would… Read more »
Jasper
Jasper
Any system as large as the VA will have some bad apples in it. I am not saying all of the horror stories are untrue, but certainly some or parts of some are. I live in Minneapolis and am covered by the VA at the Minneapolis MC. I can see my PCP or any specialist at no cost. I can receive inpatient or outpatient care, also at no charge. I also am covered by an inexpensive Medicare Advantage plan ($39… Read more »
arnieandcaroline13

Have anybody knows how get contact with DAV BENJAMIN KRAUSE BECAUSE I DO BELIEVE ON TO IMPROVE VETERANS HEALTHCARE or Someone email me i can SHARE MY BELIEF ON TO VETERANS HEALTHCARE. ….PLEASE. ….SEMPER FI.

Arnold Cabral

Is anyone on here goes Facebook why is because is i need to know Robert McDonald Secretary of Veterans Affairs email address because that way i can get it right why i am typing this i believe this site can’t give up Veterans email address. ……Thanks

Arnold Cabral

Whoever wants to answer if your not a whistle blower do a Veteran has a chance to win a MALPRACTICE SUIT AGAINST A VETERAN PRIMARY Care Doctor.

Ed Sieczka
Ed Sieczka

Does this program cover veterans that reside in the Philippines? If so, how does one apply?

ThedeptofVAiscorrupt
ThedeptofVAiscorrupt
Oh yeah, because a couple 2 bit outpatient clinics without specialty care services, or anything other than a handful of PC docs and a “lab” which only collects blood and urine samples and sends them off, is really able to provide specialty care, emergency care, and the like. The VA choice program is a freaking fraud. I love 70 miles from the nearest VAMC, 34 miles from a CBOC as i described above, and have a civi hospital 20 miles… Read more »
MTveteran
MTveteran
I live in the Atlanta VA area. the VA hospital that recently killed two veterans and even after employees were in deed at fault they did not fire the employee’s. But all of the stories i am reading are exactly what i deal with at the VA. they lie like it is an art form. i have had to resort to recording all my interactions with the VA. and i have caught them stating policies that dont exist. phone transfer… Read more »
arnieandcaroline13

I actually don’t believe in the Choice Card for me he Veteran should able to go where he wants to go as long as the Doctor approves of Veterans insurance

Brian
Brian
Choice what a joke I called choice when the St cloud Mn va could not get me in to a urologist. 6 week wait so at their suggestion I applied for and received a Choice card. I called choice and they said they would arrange an appointment. great they made an appointment and I asked if was covered Choice said yes 100 percent covered. Appointment went fine but shortly after that bills from the Dr and Clinic came to me… Read more »
Paige Kosderka
Paige Kosderka
My county, my state, too far behind…Pearl River county Mississippi is my home and my fellow veterans have an excellent VRO, not sure uf i xan mention her name but we all know and love her. It took me 2 years to get the choice program qualifications to see a counselor where i live. I have had my PTSD awardedbin service, severed, reinstated, severed and fighting for my rights to it now. No record of my MST can be found… Read more »
Leatherneck
Leatherneck

When you have PTSD now its hard to prove now a days.

Gail Woods
Gail Woods

Hello Paige…I am not very computer savvy. I am trying to reach you. I used to be Freddy’s school bus driver. Ms. Gail Could you please email me when you get a chance? [email protected] thank you.

Robert R. Morrison
Robert R. Morrison
I am supposed to see my VA cardiologist every 6 months. My last cardiologist appointment was in 2014 and his notes said he wanted to see me in 4 months. The VA never scheduled that appointment. In a recent clinic the doc asked who was my cardiologist and I honestly did not know.He attempted to schedule me but the closest was 4 months away. They then said I could use the choice program to see an outside cardiologist. Then the… Read more »
CONGRESMAN PATRICK McHenry
CONGRESMAN PATRICK McHenry

RISE AND SHINE VETERANS CALLED YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS HIRED AT LEAST ONE AT ANY VETERAN MEDICAL CENTER A COSMETIC DENTISTRY DENTIST THAT KNOWS HOW TO PUT G4IMPLANTS IN BECAUSE THEIR IS NOT ONE VETERAN MEDICAL CENTER HAS A COSMETIC DENTISTRY DENTIST THAT KNOWS HOW TO PUT G4IMPLANTS or TELLED THEM YOUR BELIEFS HOW TO IMPROVE VETERANS HEALTHCARE….REMEMBER THIS IF WASN’T FOR VETERANS WE WOULD NOT BE CALLED UNITED STATES.

sean
sean

Please don’t shout with all caps…the info you have is important and its difficult to read.

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