VA Choice Program A Failed Joke Says Senator
Last Friday, GOP Sen. Mark Kirk admitted the VA Choice Program is a failed joke in a letter to Secretary Bob McDonald despite attempts to fix it.
How is it that all attempts to fix VA require additional efforts to fix the fixes? Talk about job security where contractors and employees are added to the payroll to fix the problems created by deficient employees no one can fire.
RELATED: Jon Stewart Nails It On VA Choice Program Absurdity
OIG INVESTIGATES VA CHOICE PROGRAM PROBLEMS
Sen. Kirk’s remarks were in response to an OIG report indicating Colorado Springs VA failed to add 56 veterans to the Veterans Choice List (VCL). Addition to the list would allow those veterans to access non-VA health care. Just getting added to the list is taking months, which ameliorates the benefit of speedy access to health care the program was intended to confer.
In a letter to Secretary Bob McDonald, Sen. Kirk wrote:
“I consistently hear reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs is delaying the process of veterans’ requests to use the Choice Act, delaying the approval of provider participation in Choice, and delaying payments to participating providers.”
VA CHOICE PROGRAM UNDERCUT
The agency has grossly hindered any attempts to increase accessibility to non-VA care the program was intended to provide. Many veterans believe VA insiders are attempting to undercut the VA Choice Program to redirect funds while ensuring veterans are stuck in the system.
RELATED: VA Choice Program Reversal Increases Access
Previous claims from anti-veterans rights supporters claimed veterans did not want non-VA care and pointed to the lack of usage of the program as evidence. We now know the lack of use is really the result of sabotage within the agency to harm veterans by withholding care for private agendas.
Sen. Kirk continued his letter:
“Given the VHA’s demonstrated inability to provide even basic care, let alone comprehensive services, I find it particularly disappointing that VHA continues to stymie the private sector’s attempts to address veteran patient needs.”
THROW OUT THE BATHWATER?
Perhaps this is an instance where we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Here, the baby is likely the special interest of union employees and big bonus receiving health care executives.
When is it time to rock-n-roll with that bathwater?
DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW I CAN GET OUR CLAIMS PAID? OR WHO IS THE TOP NOTCH TO DEAL WITH?
I live in Iowa and contacted my state representative that has the most to say about veterans issues. In collaboration with her staff the VA did finally step up to the plate and pay for ER services. Be diligent .steadfast in your endeavours.
Call the Denver VA ask for the choice program office and they should be able to tell you how !
18883368262. I believe that is the number
Our Chiropractic office has been participating with the VA choice program for about 2 years. I have bills that have been resubmitted several times and not gotten paid. Several, sitting on my desk ,are from 2015. My staff has given up on trying to get them paid and basically told me, if you want to keep dealing with this messed up program, you try to get us paid. When we try to look into why we haven’t gotten paid, the hold times with Health Net are so long, we give up. (40 min + was my threshold). They frequently make mistakes processing claims. I have gone back and forth with dropping from the program. I want to honor our brave men and women by helping them with their spinal complaints. I have Vets who have done 2-3 tours of Afghanistan and Iraq that need help. We don’t get our normal fees but that was OK. I would never go after a vet for money that Healthnet hasn’t paid. However, I think the last straw was yesterday. We found out Healthnet substantially dropped what they pay for our services without any notice, other then when we received the payment.
As a follow up, our claims are being paid better so we are hanging in there with the program, for now. We still run into more problems with Health Net then nearly any other carrier we deal with.
Howard do not give up, please copy what you have and send it with a letter to the Secretary of veterans affairs and let him know what they are not doing.
How it effects your office and how it effects the veterans by not paying you they are doing this on purpose so the choice program will fail.
They want veterans to stay in the VA system where they have control of them.
Don’t put up With the VA, let the Secretary handle it for you. A paper trail is needed so they can not say they did not know this was happening.
It’s your ?, go after it. !
RISE AND SHINE VETERANS CALLED YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS CALLED THEM TELL HOW TO IMPROVE VETERANS BENEFITS and VETERANS HEALTHCARE and SPREAD THE WORD TO OTHER VETERANS.
This is the worse program for Veterans and getting outside care! I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April. Mind you my Philadelphia VA Hospital couldn’t even do my biopsies let alone my needed surgery. I was told I was being put in VCP. My biopsies were supposed to be paid for in September. Come to find out the payout was $0! When I inquired why I was told, “we made a mistake!” Screw that answer. Today I received a final notice letter or in collections I go. I will be damm if I am going to pay anything I had an authorization for. This bill was supposed to be resubmitted for payment. But I can’t inquire until 1/6/17 when it’s a month since my last inquire. This program is a mess! It’s a disgrace!!!! Veterans are treated terribly. It’s like the government doesn’t even care. The patient advocate doesn’t care. Tells me they can’t help me with choice issues. Why have an advocate then is what I say. Veterans Affairs office does nothing with the Choice Program also. I tried calling them and it’s on their voicemail info. Where’s a Veteran to turn? Get a lawyer which cost money. Sue the government? I need to know. This program is going to ruin my good credit rating. I need answers and help. Please somebody help me!!!! I am at my wits end!
Monica Rickckarads my suggestion would be asked Ben Krause the one created this website he is Lawyer also plus I don’t know what you make for money which i don’t want to know my other suggestion find a pro bona Lawyer.
I really despise that answer from Patient Advocates that they can’t help with Choice. Its a bullshit answer and they know it. Someone within the VA made the referral. Who did it and why do they now long after the care has been delivered do they consider it a mistake?
They can also refer you to the Choice champion, who can track down why it is suddenly no longer authorized when the bill comes due.
That whole program has been a disaster simply because of the sniveling bastards in the VA that are butthurt over that money going to Choice rather than the VA.
I had a Choice appointment because the VA referred me outside the VA. I never saw a bill because I was raising so much hell on other things, the VA became confused. They thought I was complaining about Choice billing, when in fact I never saw a bill.
The head of the Patient Advocates who looked into the Choice billing told me the provider sent it to the wrong location, which was a damn lie because that provider had been involved in Choice since it started, and certainly knew where to send their bill.
If you were given a Choice authorization number, your care was authorized and they need to pay the bill. I would visit your Choice champion and stay in their office until it was fixed.
Based upon ALL the folly of the VA, it is time for President Trump to defund and dismantle the VA completely as he dismantles Obumacare. President Trump hopefully will give veterans a better private immediate healthcare than the VA which is a complete waste of American dollars. The VA must be done away with because of the diabolical works of President Obuma wanting ruin for All veterans as wasteful for America.
HOW MANY VETERANS BELIEVE THAT VETERANS SECRETARY SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ROBERT MCDONALD SHOULD GET THE BOOT.
I agree the VA states they want veterans to have a choice, once the veterans do get into the choice program, the VA will retaliate against the Veterans for choosing an outside doctor and starts the process of not paying the doctors or procedure requested by the outside doctor.
So, the veteran then has to do all the work to try and get them to pay and most are being sent to collections, mission accomplished. Teach you dirty veteran to make the wrong choice.
shut it down and save billions and those funds could be given to Veterans who deserve payment for disabilities received in the service. Everyone knows the VA will not take the veterans word and will hide any evidence that would prove their case, I know they did this to me for forty years and still doing it !
Even when my official records state I was (shot) in the face, the VA put down that I was hit in the head with a tear gas canister and refuse to acknowledge that due to the Gun shot I have a TBI, Even when MRI, cat scans show that I have a TBI and the VA Neurologist’s have placed into my records that its from an old TBI.
I am in the process of filing once again for them to change it to a gun shot and with the proof I have they should grant disability for the TBI, Not to mention that the scans indicate that I may have cancer of the Brain also.
I wont hold my breath, they will probably deny it again and again and probably tell me to die already !
just another vet all VETERANS who reads this i am contract my Senators and Representatives to passed a Veteran Law if a Veteran is 100 percent service connected if he or she needs to see Medical Provider outside the Veteran Medical Center needs to see Medical Provider outside the Veteran Medical Center and Medical Provider wants the money upfront from the VA should get it because it wasn’t for Veterans we would not be call United States plus it’s time for Disabled Veterans get Quality Care. So please i need help i cannot do alone.
I know of myself who has been through the ringer the entire year of 2016 with Healthnet and the VA to have medical bills paid. At this point I have contacted many people. My bills still have yet to be paid but hopefully if we all stand together we may all find some relief. I am reaching out to hopefully help others out there who are also suffering. Below is some contacts I have acquired throughout the year AFTER my bills were sent to collections, and Healthnet had reprocessed my claims 3 times due to errors:
I made a congressional complaint that really got my foot in the door! Write your congressman!
Healthnet Veterans Choice Corporate Office 1-866-606-8198 or 1-800-291-6911
Escalations with VA in Denver 1-877-881-7618
I also just sent letters to the national headquarters of the VFW, Washington DC office VFW, Future VP Mike Pence, And Future President Donald Trump. Congress, President Obama, and the help of the VFW put this program into place so that is why I have escalated my concerns to them specifically. The healthnet contract is coming upon expiration, and they could potentially get the contract again. This is why I am doing everything I can to get this program out now! I know this may seem slightly overboard but I’m just hoping someone will hear me. If you have had the slightest taste of the hell I’ve been through you would understand my excessivness. Best of luck to all my brothers and sisters out there!
Brittany R you absolutely right to many Veterans surrender and if anyone can get on here they should not surrender it’s a Country of Freedom of Speech Veterans remember Veterans we are not Unions we are Fighters.
Patrrick and Leatherneck and Veterans also can called the Veterans Committees in Washington, DC Veterans go on your computer to look up on what the Veterans Committee it’s a Toll Free telephone number to voice your firm belief how to improve Veterans Benefits and your Veterans how to improve Veterans Healthcare…also do what Leatherneck said do all three do not Surrender.
The veterans committee meet in August with Sloan Gibson and other’s , Yes they again were looking for money 1.2 billion, 421 million for a sharing program of information. They spoke about choice and how veterans can been seen if the VA does not have a doctor and it seems most rural CBOC’s are only open 1 day a week so many clinics don’t have a full time MD, therefore most veterans qualify.
Now the VA stated they want to have all veterans that go to an emergency room to PAY a $100 to the emergency room, even if your service connected. Also stating that any veteran could get stuck with the bill, if they don’t get prior authorization.
The call center does not pick up the phone and advises veterans you have 72 hours to notify VA, so $100 dectuable and then you can end up paying some or all of the visit. One committee member told them you know you guys keep wanting more money to new projects, how can we trust you when it seems your new programs become outdated before done.
And since we are getting a new president, is this project one where someone else can carry on as you Guys might not be here once the new president takes office. Look on their faces priceless. The congressman from Alaska was mad and told them what happened to you Mr Gibson with the Choice program in Alaska.
We spent 3 days going to clinics and you seen the problem, you said you were going to do something, Gibson yes we are, Member really then why is your staff telling me that Alaska has to wait for it to be national. Gibson, nope we doing Alaska first and my staff was wrong telling you that.
So the one hand does not know what the other one is doing or the other hand is flipping off the other hand ?
These people are so full of themselves they come up with bright ideas, that they and the committee know are false promises.
In my area, all the major medical private facilities are denying veterans care who have Veterans Choice. It’s because of the poor payments they received. I went to one of those facilities just prior to their decision to stop caring for veterans using Veterans Choice. They handed me a letter saying they wanted me to submit private insurance because they were having so much trouble with getting paid by VC. I had complications after the procedure….. The private facility denied further care, the VA told me they couldn’t do anything and to go back to the place that did the procedure. I ended up with two Emergency Room visits.
This is the VA retaliating against our elected officials and mostly the veterans that decided to use choice, We will teach those Veterans, we will ruin them, by messing up their credit. How dare those veterans want decent care, We have only gave them the best Janitors ever seen and they are complaining.
The Veterans that died because of our dishonesty is a product of War, Why are you veterans upset about a few veterans dyeing anyway, their is so many more to take their place and stop bitching about our yearly Bonus, hell we the best at Hungry Hippo’s and we deserve every penny.
Don’t worry about what were doing and just keep your mouths shut or you will be next !
Were not kidding ! you poor Veterans want what quality of care, ok you will get it, no more Doctors because they also take away from our yearly Bonus, so from now on you will get a registered Nurse and if you don’t like, well you know where you can go don’t you.
Well employees, we do expect quality care and we want to live long enough to see our kids grow up, is that to much to ask ? I know the answer is Yes !
Bob McDonald should be hanging his head in shame !
The VA is causing problems for all Veterans whom chooses to use Choice, They are doing this on purpose as a way to attack Veterans because of their choice to use an outside doctor. They call us traders and will ruin our credit and therefore our lives.
They are not paying the bills, Making Veterans send in Prescriptions to be filled, have to wait a week or more and many Veterans needed that medication NOW, The VA sends out a flyer telling Veterans since your are using choice, you don’t or no longer part of the VA system. This goes against everything told to Veterans who use choice that because you are using the Choice program, You do not loose any benefits !
How are these managers getting away with refusing to rewrite Choice doctors prescriptions, Why are they forcing Veterans to go without the medication, Many Veterans finds themselves with little or no money and the VA is forcing them to pay for the medication, send in the receipt of payment and then send it back in for reimbursement. So when a veteran needs medication such as myself for an infection of the lungs and medication is needed now, not next week.
Again, the VA is punishing Veterans for using choice, Ben this is deplorable and must stop. The employees in charge of choice should be fired or arrested for patient abuse. If someone did not lens me the money for the medication, I could have become so sick that I could have died and the VA could give to shits, if I did. Probably would play Hungry Hippo to celebrate !
RICKY DAVIS ARE YOU SCARED TO VOICE WHAT I ASKED OF VETERANS TO ASKED THEIR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS PASSED A VETERAN LAW IF A VETERAN NEEDS TO SEE MEDICAL PROVIDER OUTSIDE OF THE VETERAN MEDICAL CENTER AND MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS WANTS THE MONEY UPFRONT THE VA SHOULD GET IT BECAUSE IT WASN’T FOR VETERANS WE WOULD NOT BE CALL UNITED STATES….ITS NOT A JOKE ITS REAL DEAL
I’m not scared. I’m sick and tired of fighting. I should not have to fight. I am disabled in the line of duty. This is nothing more than that.
Fix what you broke and were not qualified to repair. I won’t be answering anymore. I have now been forced to resort to other means to get my foot fixed.
Stuck in perpetual limbo. The VA can’t fix my damaged foot that they operated on 2 years ago. I tried for months to get an outside consult, then I had to start a congressional investigation to get it. Well I got it… BAM… nothing. I was put in the Choice (Crap) program and now have been waiting week after week for the phone call with my appointment, which will never come. They make sure to tell you “thank you for your service” like a trained monkey.
Don’t thank me for my service, GET ME MY APPOINTMENT and let me get well! Another government scam, nothing more.
VETERANS RISE AND SHINE VETERANS CALLED YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS PASSED A VETERAN LAW THAT IF A VETERAN IS 100 PERCENT SERVICE CONNECTED AND IF THE VETERAN NEEDS TO SEE MEDICAL PROVIDER OUTSIDE THE VETERAN MEDICAL CENTER AND MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS WANTS THE MONEY UPFRONT FROM THE VA SHOULD GET IT BECAUSE IT WASN’T FOR VETERANS WE WOULD NOT BE CALL UNITED STATES….Semper Fi
LOL.. Semper Fi… not so excited anymore.. I figured out this is all a scam after waiting years to fix what they broke…. peace, Merry Christmas…
sorry I struggle to explain what happened to me with Choice so I will try again to make sure everyone
understands why not to use choice.
I had a bladder infection required a visit to the VA in St Cloud MN.
They gave me meds and said they did not have a bed available. (I was passing blood)
Went home the condition worsened and I ended up in the local non VA ER.
Great Va paid all of that as they should.
problem begins when I tried to make a follow up (as directed by the ER )
Called St Cloud VA they could not get me in for 6 weeks and they suggested Choice.
Great I thought I applied and received a choice card.
I called choice and THEY called a local clinic and they made the appointment.
The follow up went well but they billed me I called and asked them to bill choice they said they wont work with VA or Choice and either I pay or they will ruin my credit.
Shouldn’t CHOICE have ASKED THAT QUESTION BEFORE MAKING THE APPOINTMENT FOR ME.
I cant and wont pay they made the appointment not me .
So now I am in collections in spite of hundreds of calls and letters
They are RUINING MY CREDIT.
So to all the vets refuse choice.
I have called the adverse credit number I have an authorization number it is worthless.
This was all pre approved by choice and they discussed the billing when they made the appointment.
Adverse credit FOR hEALTH NET just pass me around from one person to the next I have talked with at least 6 of the gals there they all say that an investigation is going on but no one ever gets back to me in spite of them telling me they will respond within 10-14 days its all bull shit.
To top that some idiot named Steven at the Denver Choice office actually closed my file never once talked to me.
I raised hell and someone named Pheniox re opened it.
i STARTED MY LETTERS TO choice IN aPRIL OF 2016 NO RESPONSE AS OF November 2016
DO NOT USE CHOICE
ADVERSE CREDIT 1 877 881-7618
sT cLOUD va 320 255.2663
pEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSE TO BE WORKING TO HELP VETS BUT JUST CANT SEEM TO GET IT DONE AT CHOICE,
STEVEN IN DENVER
tHESE PEOPLE ARE STEELING THE MONEY BY TAKING A PAYCHECK WITH NO PLAN TO ACTUALLY HELP THE VETS.
i BET THEIR CREDIT IS JUST FINE.
The VCP is one big screw up! I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April after having biopsies performed outside my VA! Terrible women’s services there or lack of. I needed surgery, 3 in fact. Now, bills going back to April haven’t been paid yet I had authorization for every procedure, doctor and surgery. These bill collectors are coming after me for payments. I refuse to budge on paying them. I told them fight it out with VCP. VCP told me yesterday a bill was paid in September only to find out they paid out $0. What good is an authorization if they are not going to pay. It’s a disgrace what we Veterans are put through. It’s bad enough I had to adjust to life without breast and use prosthesis but now is my credit rating getting messed up because of a program that doesn’t work. I am at my wits end. Stress is making my hair fall out and I didn’t need after care treatments. I CAN’T TAKE MUCH MORE. VCP SUCKS!!!
That is horrible, Monica. I am so sorry to hear this. Veterans are being screwed by this Veterans Choice Program. I will do anything to not use it based on my horrible experiences, as well.
Monica and Jill so sorry to hear of your health issues My wife also has breast cancer so I understand what you are going thru.
I wrote directly to the Minnesota director of VA he actually answered.He sent me to a guy at the VA in St cloud I thought my nightmare was over turns out it is Adverse credit.for health net they are not going to do a damm thing for me every time I call they just pass me around to another rep they treat it like its a game only it is our credit.
My first letter to Choice was sent in April and now its november still no response.
I went to a doctor that choice selected for me. they gave me an authorization number I thought I was covered as I asked and they said they pick up the tab.
Now 8 mounths later I am in collections you know it was only a 750.00 bill but they wont pay becuse the doctor refuses to send a bill to choice / health net,
oN TOP OF THAT THE STUPID DOCTORS OFFICE SEND ME TO COLLECTIONS AND i ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO PAY THE EXTORTED MONEY TO THE DOCTOR OFFICE CHASE SOVELL OF CAMBRIDGE CLINIC IN MINNESOTA.
e-4 USMC 1971 Tank Commander
THEY CAN RUIN MY CREDIT BUT i WILL NEVER PAY.
I als wrore my senator and yes thay have responded. Saying they have an investigation going.
Write your congressman and senator
WARNING TO ALL VETERANS DO NOT USE CHOICE DEMAND THAT THEY SEE YOU AT THE VA.
I have dealt with the choice program twice so far, the first time for an MRI, they give me a letter stating to call the choice program in 7 to 10 days and they will schedule the appointment with a practitioner close to me.
The first time I called for 37 days, each day after the 7th day only to be told the choice program didn’t have my paperwork yet. I finally got my appointment. The MRI was done well over 60 days of starting the appointment. The results were positive tears in several meniscus in the left and right knee. Plus the appointment was in Dallas, I live in far west Fort Worth, not even close to me. About 60 miles away in heavy traffic. I think they did that just for meanness.
The second time is now, I just stopped by the Optometrist to request an eye exam. My glasses are broken and my prescription is out. They give me the same form that says wait 7 to 10 days to call choice.
I sure hope I don’t have a wreck in the meantime.
Is there anything we can do, or complain to about this. I doubt it since the VA is its own sovereign nation, makes it own rules and you have to accept whatever they want to do to you.
I am a Veteran Regional Counselor i will asked for Veterans to get a raise in their VETERANS PENSION OR iF THEIR COMPENSATION
Thanks for your imput ARNOLD CABRAL and MERRILL VAUGHAN I wiil not SURRENDER
RISE and SHINE after reading what ARNOLD CABRAL SAID BEN KRAUSE DO THE SAME and OTHERS VETERANS CALLED THEIR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS PASSED A VETERAN LAW OF THEIR CHOICE DON’T SURRENDER.
As for me verbally fighting for the Veteran Medical Center hired a least one at any Veteran Medical Center a Cosmetic Dentistry Dentist that does knows how to put in G4 Implants i email Senator McCain and Senator Flake andRepresentative Paul Gosar but hired a Cosmetic Dentistry Dentist that knows how to put in G4 Implants and found out no other Senators or Representatives the email come back sorry your out the State email your own Representatives and Senators passed a Veteran Law hired a least one at any Veteran Medical Center a Cosmetic Dentistry Dentist that knows how to put in G4 Implants but i won’t surrender that tells me Representatives and Senators is full of shit.
Choice ruined my credit.
i was scheduled for a dr visit at the St Cloud VA in Minnesota ( I am a disabled Vet)
they could not get me in in time but suggested Vets Choice .
April of 16 Choice made an appointment for me The appointment went well but they billed me not choice.
When I responded they told me they will not work with the VA or choice.
Now six mouths later the provider has me in collections who is ruining my credit.
If I had only waited the seven weeks for the VA appointment.
I have heard it so many times “We will get it taken care of” that will be the last I hear from the choice people.
Then I call and get another person who may tell me there will be a response in 14 days for the investigation.,only to never hear from them again.
Note to all Vets if you go out of the system you may ruin your credit.
I have to travel 111 miles to see a specialist. why cant I use veterans choice.
Veterans how come Veterans Medical Centers don’t have A Cosmetic Dentistry Dentist if they do let me know even a Veterans Choice Card don’t deal with Dentistry.
What I know is this. The VA dentist pulled a tooth 2 teeth back from the front teeth.
I asked want they were going to do about replacing the tooth.?
Answer nothing. It’s to much work and would cost TO much. !
IF. You read up on this. They should have replaced the tooth or the others will start shifting and cause more problems.?
They don’t care. About what should be done. Keep the cost down. For their yearly bonous. !
JAMES THANKS FOR INFORMATION I THOUGHT THAT ………STAY HEALTHY.
Again after going in full circle, I received yet another bill for medical services to treat an infected toe, which I should have waited for a weekday to travel to my closest VA facility – my mistake. Additionally, you can see my previous posts on the run arounds I got. So, I am assuming that I didn’t quite understand the Choice program.
Here is the letter that I wrote to the “Non-VA Medical Billing” supervisor today. I guess what I am truly after is to not get the run around with everyone I speak to and to get to the bottom line if I do have to pay for “Non-VA” medical treatment. I did pay the bills. But only after NOT getting to the bottom line of the bills on my own.
I am posting this so that maybe we CAN get answers and that maybe we can get a response to all the confusion. And perhaps, we can get clarification on how the VA Choice Program is supposed to work and how it doesn’t work. I am intending to NOT use a NON-VA facility in the future, I hope. However, I did have to present bills that I received for a breast biopsy from a Diagnostic Center facility that I was referred to (and my local VA facility does not perform mammograms and/or breast pathology).
Please feel free to respond with any solutions. Apologies for the rant, but hopefully we can get back to normal treatment entirely by the VA. Obviously, this isn’t working…
Dear Mr. Underwood:
I am writing this email to follow up on a voice message left for you this afternoon, 6/24/2016, at about 2 pm.
I received a bill from [a bill collector ABC] [for account #] [in the amount of $], for the original bill from [xyz] [for account #] [in the amount of] for an Emergency Room visit dated 12/15/2015.
I am deeply disappointed with the fact that I thought this bill would be paid under the Choice Program, so I am unclear as to the processes involved with the Choice Program. The visit was for an infected toe that was oozing pus and the doctor stated that it did, in fact, need to be treated right away. I did not travel 40+ miles from [point A to point B], since it was a concern impacting my work, at that time, and [x] was the closest medical facility to me.
I did call [ABC] and I did qualify for a reduced payment; so the bill has been paid.
I am unhappy with the entire billing process for the bills received from two separate issues: (1) the infected toe treated by [xyz] and (2) a different medical issue for an infected eye treated by [QRS]. For both issues, I had been receiving numerous statements and bills for months with threats of the bills going to collections. I had made several phone calls [as soon as I got the first statements] to the VA Patient Advocates, to the Medical Facilities who treated me and who were billing me, to VA Choice (not to mention personal visits to the VA Patient Advocates and Non-VA Billing department) only to get a vicious circle of having to make duplicate calls and to be referred back to the same numbers I had called. Moreover, I was also told that the manners would be taken care of.
When discussing these issues with [a VA billing agent], she assured me that these matters would be resolved. However, six months later (as of today), I only learned that the [the first above reference bill – xyz] was in fact DENIED by the VA. And this was only learned by ME having to call the billing organization, and without any notification from the Veterans Affairs. There was no correspondence stating that the bills were denied, the reasons why, and what action needed to be taken on my behalf.
It is a shame that the Department of Veterans Affairs is not in contact with the Veterans and does not attempt to communicate any billing issues with the patient(s). So, billing issues go unresolved for months, and it takes the Veteran to do his/her own work to understand the billing processes. I, as I am sure many Veterans, am confused with the Veterans Choice Program, and the failure to adequately convey the rules associated with the Veterans Choice Program and/or with receiving care outside the given radius of travel to the closest V.A. The program is quite deceiving to Veterans who continue to receive bills for months after the original care.
I would gladly like to discuss my concerns with you and to also get clarification on this horrible deception being told to Veterans. The Choice Program is a failure in many Veterans’ opinions.
I have paid both bills out of pocket to prevent any negative impact on my credit report. However, I am sure that many Veterans aren’t able to do this and don’t understand why they are being billed.
So what I think is if any Veteran wants to chip in with me to put a Classified Ad in the DAV in the monthly magazine on how to improve Veterans Healthcare Let me …..Thanks…Semper Fi.
Received 8.5k in bills this week for approved visits via veterans choice. Pissed off doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. Those procedures were 9 to 10 months ago.
How many Veterans on here to put their beliefs how to improve Veterans Healthcare in their Local Newspaper and in the VFW.DAV, and American Legion Newspaper. ….please respond back. ….Happy Memorial Day.
Arnold, I am in the same boat. I have been receiving non stop bills for care the VA choice was supposed to cover. Some of them even went to collections. I’m having to spend time I don’t have calling around to try and get this resolved. Now I’m eligible to use VA Choice again, but they haven’t been able to find a provider that will accept the program. I don’t blame them. I had a c-section in Jan. and I just received a bill from the primary insurance company I had all last year for the surgery charge(3$800). This lets me know that the VA Choice has yet to pay the doctor. Which is probably why we can’t find a provider in this area to accept the program. I can’t blame them.
Yes, I was dealing with a VA Billing Specialist to resolve a bill that still hasn’t been paid. I finally just paid it.
I can’t afford 8.5k for services the VA approved. Not paying them is a flat out tort on their part.
Funny, because it seems to be working. Veterans Choice covered just about every expense from my motorcycle accident last year. I had to pay for the prescriptions.. that was it. Now I’m switching primary care physicians, and within a week I get a call stating the VA couldn’t see me within 30 days, and so I’m being referred to a private physician, will all costs covered.
For a joke, it seems to be working pretty damn well for me.
Johnathan Post did you do War Time if you did you can get Veteran Pension if can’t work at all……..Semper Fi
The Veterans Choice Program worked expediently for me in regard to dermatological care for skin cancer. The outside provider was 3 miles from my residence, provided excellent care and was prompt on follow-up visits. Major PROBLEM though is that the provider has NOT been paid for any of the procedures or biopsies. It has been 14 months and numerous calls to VA, Tri-West and Veterans Choice. Apparently only the consultation was paid for. This doctor is owed $3,200. When contacted, each department has it’s own reasons why the claims were denied. No cohesiveness, no call backs, and passing the buck.
Therefore it seems the program is working for the VA (getting veteran care and not paying for it). It’s a win win for them. It is NOT working for the Veterans. This doctor has not billed me but in all good conscience I feel I owe him for his services.
It does seem to work well for a few veterans in some parts of the country, but is a disaster for most veterans in many parts of the country…just like the VA,
I was referred to Choice by the VA, and after 57 days of calling Choice and getting my Congressman involved, Choice finally called to schedule an appointment with the doctor the VA had referred me to.
I figure I am one of the lucky ones who used Choice. So far I haven’t seen a bill to get my credit ruined, but there are many veterans with collections agencies after them for many thousands of dollars because Choice has not paid the bill.
If Choice had been working fine, Congress wouldn’t have been raising hell recently over them paying providers in a timely manner. Many providers refused to take more veterans after getting stiffed by Choice.
Beware my friend Choice sent me to a doctor they made the appt now wont pay the 700.00 bill and i AM IN COLLECTIONS.
CONSIDER THAT WHEN USING CHOICE.
Did you pick the doctor or did Choice? If Choice picked the doctor, then Choice was aware that they had an agreement with that doctor, and as a part of that agreement, they are not allowed to bill the veteran.
We all know what reality is like though.
You need to find out if that doctor was chosen by Choice, then go to your VA and demand to see the “Choice Champion” at your VA who is supposed to help vets with Choice. Take copies of the bills, and tell them you want them to contact Choice while you wait to resolve it.
Tell them your next step is to contact your congressman to help insure it is fixed, then do it.
same here Parkview knows I have been in contact with choice, every month and get the same old story. Parkview stated we were getting ready to send it to collections. Since you have kept in touch with us, we are going to drop it back a month.
Told me they spoke with the provider caring for me and they also have not been paid. We as veterans should be able to start a law suit against the VA Choice, They are doing this because veterans wanted choice and the VA wants to get back at us, and doing so through the pocket book.
Jail is where they need to be !
James my suggestion is to call/ write your senator and congressman.
Choice is absolutely doing more damage than good to us vets,
They are responsible for ruining my perfect credit (50 years ) never been late and always paid my bills .
Let them ruin it I refuse to pay the bill choice owes.
I will die before i use the choice plan again.
sooner or later Washington will have to settle up with all of us and if someone starts a class action count me in.
I am writing to scott tipton about the billing and how they can turn a veteran away when an outside doctor choice writes them. wanting a veteran to travel 400 miles for a prescription.
The VA does not want the Choice Program to work. They want to keep captive within the VA to preserve their jobs, bonuses, etc. In comparison to most VA services, the private sector is far superior and the VA does not want Veterans to experience and compare it. Then there is the issue of medical education. At the VA, you are frequently treated by trainees from local medical schools who pay the VA to train on you. Going into the VA for surgery.? How do you feel about having a first time trainee involved in your surgery?
It just could be Bob behind the mask, doing it just for kicks.
I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. The VA does want the Choice Program to work–believe me–I work for the VA and I deal with the Choice Program and Healthnet–Every. Single. Day. The concept of the program is a great idea; however, the execution is HORRIBLE! The problem is is that no one is fully educated on what everyone’s roles are. There are too many hands in the pot. I am case manager that handles the traditional non va care for patients where I get the request, I explain why the patient needs non-Va care, get the approval, make the patient an appt and get fee services to send one the authorization to the provider and it works out great! With the Choice Program, the VA person requesting the service constantly has to hassle Healthnet to contact the patient and make the appt for the patient and so on and so on. So while I definitely believe that the VA needs to come up with a better solution to this, I do not think that they want the Choice Program to fail–they just do not know how to properly implement so that it would be effective in allowing Veterans to be see quicker and closer to home.
Quite frankly that is baloney. They do not want it to work for they lose control over the veterans and that is why that in all the government run health care like medicare, medicaid etc the only people who get no choice for their doctors is us vets. Even my wife gets to choose her doctor because she gets champ V.A. from being my wife yet i continually am denied the choice program even though the V.A.’s own specialist that comes to the V.A. every 2 weeks recommended me to a local specialty clinic and the V.A. continually denies me that right. I have been in the V.A. system for 41 years and most major surgeries i have had done have been done thanks only to the private insurance i was lucky to have for the V.A. consistently made every excuse in the world to avoid doing what was needed. It was so bad that i went to lawyers to sue the massively corrupt V.A. only to hear some honest lawyer say what they did to me was criminal but no one will take the case because it cost so much to fight the government so please stop blowing smoke up veterans butts and the citizens who give billions of tax dollars thinking they are helping us vets. My disability is service connected and documented as such yet they want me to travel over 2 hour drive to get a chance of proper care when the specialty clinic i need and have been to before is 14 miles from my house.
2 months still waiting for choice
You are 100% spot on Don.
Why when I make a comment on to improve Veterans Healthcare nobody answer me back ….I lwill try one more time…..How many Veterans try to called their Congressmen to filed to see if their complaint is true or not that their is part of Congressmen Job.please reply ……Semper Fi.
According to Senator Bennett’s office out of Colorado, ” This office can make an inquiry to government agency and that’s all we can do, we can not force a government agency to conduct any investigations or tell them to change anything. So our Senators office is just a catch all for complaints and hold no power to change things.
If you don’t believe me call his office and ask for Hale, his Assistant and ask him what their power of government officials is ! They can only make inquires and what ever the response is, even if it shows the agency is lieing they can not do anything about it according to Bennetts office.
I have experienced exactly the same thing with Rep Karen Bass and Rep Maxine waters in California. In addition their staffers have no interest in assisting veterans. In the case of of Karen Bass she voted against oversight of the VA. At one point the office of Rep. Julia Brownley had a staffer who was a veteran and tried to do more. When this returned to school, Rep Brownley office was same as Rep’s Bass and Waters.
Asked your Congressman not your Representative their are not the ones who makes the Laws for Veterans Healthcare even the Senators don’t make the Veteran Medical Center Healthcare Laws…..only Congress does.
James…Hate to tell you this but the House of Representatives IS part of Congress…Just saying…
I am going to the Daily Courier newspaper going to ad in on how to improve Veterans Healthcare. ..Semper Fi.
I had an aggressive prostate cancer which resulted in surgery on August 25th. Thinking that my hospital bill and all other surgeon bills have been paid, I received a surprise in the mail this past Friday. I got a bill from surgeon for his services which are now 6 months old. I am scheduled to for more cancer surgery on April 12th with the same surgeon. Immediately upon receipt of the bill I was embarrassed beyond belief. How can this doctor want to handle my next surgery when he hasn’t even been paid for the first one, but this is my life at hand. So, I call my local VAMC, they said they would get right in it, but what does that mean? Am I actually going to have the surgery? Or am I going to,get a doctor totally unfamiliar with my case? Why is it taking 6 months and more for these doctors and hospitals to get paid? The money is there? So why the delays? Incompetence? I just pray to God that my cancer does not spread and take my life. But then again, I can always pay my own??? This is no way for us veterans to be treated! We gpfought for this country and this is what we are being repaid with?
VA Choice is a joke! At first I thought it might be a good thing. However, trying to play by the rules and seeking medical care closer to home, I have had two cases of total frustration.
Firstly, a $171 medical bill for an office visit on a Sunday, in which case I called Veterans Choice before going. The clinic I went to “doesn’t do business with the VA”!
Secondly, a vicious circle of playing the game of setting up an appointment for my annual mammogram. Veterans Choice took my preferable dates and times, stating they would call my preferred provider who has my records from previous appointments. No call. Called back following week. Same thing.
Receive a letter from Veterans Choice stating that I need to call them to set up an appt. Repeat process.
Receive letter from VA stating that they haven’t received my results yet. Repeat process. Call VA Call Center number on letter who states did I call the number on the letter?! “Yes, I’m talking to you and that’s the number on the letter.” They put a message into my VA doctor to “reinstate the order”. Called same VA Center Call number back and I get another VA Call Center Rep. He gives me a number to a Veterans Choice “Champion”, who I call. She states she will follow up on it and get back to me within a half hour. She calls back in a hour. Finally, I get a phone call from someone who tells me to just call the outside provider (who I’ve been going to for years now) and set up an appointment and call her back to update the Portal! Ok, done, or so I thought! Veterans Choice calls me asking me if I want to set up an appointment?! I tell them I have an appointment set up, and they take the information to update “their” system and tell me they have to validate the appointment! For real?
Then, I get a voice message from VA stating that I have a question about setting up an appointment? Oh geez.
And on top of this all happening today, I get another bill from a Laboratory for a breast biopsy done in September 2016 through the outside provider for $211! I guess the place that I have my mammograms done sent my biopsy to the Lab, and I was billed for it!
The process used to be so much simpler for me. Now it seems like I have even longer wait times to set up appointments within the VA and outside the VA for my mammogram appointments which used to be so easy!
September 2015, not September 2016.
I kept detailed notes of every time I called Choice, which is run by HealthNet. After about 3 weeks of getting the same excuse and no appointment, I wrote an email with all those details and emailed my Congressman and Senator. At around day 45 or 50, I was told by Choice I would have to start over because the VA screwed up the consult. I emailed an update to the Congressman and Senator and asked them to inquire. I was referred to Choice January 14th, called Choice on January 19th, and finally got the appointment after the Congressional inquiry March 9th.
Keep detailed notes and keep your Congressman and/or Senator informed of what is happening. They are finally waking up to how bad Choice is…only because veterans have been contacting them.
Shut down the VA
So finally after several weeks of going round and round with even a visit to my primary VA facility, which BTW is >40 miles from my home (hence VA Choice, right – HAHA), I think I may have resolution on my bills.
It only took calling the numbers on the bills numerous times, who told me they still hadn’t received payment. I told them I didn’t want the bills going to collections, so they put the bills on hold and said they wouldn’t go to collections.
I had to make SO many phone calls to the “Non-VA Care number” the VA gave me. The ‘Non-VA Care” number was directed to the wrong VISN who “could not help me, because they could not ‘look-up’ my information unless it was in collections”. I left messages with the VA Billing, who called me back and gave me the same number for the “Non-VA Care”.
So finally I was redirected to a Patient Advocate, which is now being called a Service Level Advocate. Oh my!!!
She told that she would look into it. I had to give her the same information that I gave to her “assistant” who called me prior to “gather all of the information”! She told me to call the “Non-VA Care” number, and I told her I wasn’t getting anywhere with that!!! So frustrating!
So, needless to say, I ended up getting some information back from the Pt Advocate, but I had to call on my own behalf to the (Non-VA) medical providers and try to get everything rectified. Between the “patient advocate” (or whatever you want to call them) and my phone calls, we may have it reconciled.
The Patient Advocate called me back today and told me that for one of the bills, the VA was billing the wrong provider or “something”!!! Really? At the expense of the Veteran!
The other bill was handled, because I called the outside medical provider and gave them the “non-va billing” address to resend the bill!
Give me a BREAK!
Jill if you did War Time service called Veterans Affairs their telephone number is 1-800-8271000 if you are Diabled your eligible for Veteran Pension plus if your not their is others benefits you can get do not surrender you serve our Country. …..Ooray….Semper Fi.
Ben had a post here about the VA announcing some new 800 number for providers to call to resolve problems with Choice. The head of the Patient Advocates told me about that number a couple weeks ago because I asked him several questions about the VA paying the bills for my Choice appointment. He very clearly stated the number was for providers to call to resolve billing problems, and it was being implemented to try convince private doctors to start using Choice again.
I have not yet seen a bill, but you can bet if I do see one, I will be having a meeting with one of the 3 “Choice Champions” at my small VA, and they will be doing their jobs to resolve that billing problem.
It does not surprise me that you never mentioned these “Choice Champions”. The VA wonders why vets and providers are having these problems, yet they never tell vets and providers of these people they have hired to resolve these problems with Choice.
VA is hurting veterans
James my advice to you if you don’t like the The Veterans Choice Card first called try to asked them who passed The Choice Card to be
part of Veterans Medical Centers than voice your belief remember do it in assertive way why you don’t like them….Good Luck. …Semper Fi
I have experienced the Veterans Choice Program first hand. In September of 2015 my primary care doctor determined that I had numbness and tingling of the nerves in both my right and left arms. She submitted a consult to the neurology clinic. After 30 days, October 6, 2015, I received a phone call that Veterans Choice would get me a more timely appointment. I was asked to provide the names of a couple of hand surgeons in the area.
In November of 2015 I called Veterans Choice for a status. I was informed that they had just received the VA paperwork and were attempting to find a doctor. I continued to get no positive response from Veterans Chioice.
After not hearing from Veterans Choice for another month, I called them in December of 2015 requesting a status. I was informed that the doctors names I provided did not take Tri-West Insurance so they could not use them. They said they would still keep looking, but if I wanted faster service I could use my medicare coverage and get my own doctor. The agent added that if i took that option that I would be responsible for the 20% co-pay required by the VA. I requested they still search for a Doctor that would take Tri-West.
Finally, On January 6, 2016 i was assigned a Hand Doctor in Las Vegas for an appointment on January 15, 2016 for my initial appointment.
As of today February 24, 2016, I have still I finally completed a nerve test through the neurological Department of the Las Vegas, Nevada VA determining that I do have numbness in both hands, poor circulation in two fingers on both hands, and I have Carpal Tunnel in both hand and require surgery. Today, I will meet with the outside doctor through Veterans Choice to see if he has been provided with the test results and what steps be taken next. In the mean time I am in severe pain in both hands, getting very little sleep each night (two to three hours) and becoming worried about what affects the lack of circulation will have on my hands in the future.
I have lost all hope that the VA will ever fix this mess so people with issues like me or even worse will get help and that the VA will not just let us get worse and die.
Gary, please write up a detailed explanation of this and provide it to Rep. Jeff Miller who chairs the House VA committee.
The Government Accountability Office will be investigating the Choice program this spring. Provide those comments to your Congressman and ask that they be included in the GAO investigation.
They need to hear what a massive disaster that program has been.
Thats terrible I remember the pain before my carpal tunnel surgery. The veterans choice program doesn’t always pay their bills, even ones pre-authorized. I would find a workmens comp clinic, they fo a lot of carpal tunnel cases. That is wear i got my carpal tunnel surgeries 100 percent paid for. Im so tired of the VA and the bs veterans choice program not doing their job.
Tracy Molina if you have something to you believe that Veterans Healthcare need to be improve telled your Congress telled them plus you must know Veterans Friends tell them to do the same….SEMPER FI
While a great many Veterans have had problems with Choice, I have used it repeatedly for various ailments here in San Diego without any problems whatsoever.
I’m not saying that the VA, or Choice, or TriWest or other regional contractors, or providers, don’t have problems with Choice…only that my own experience with over 20 separate visits to two different providers has been smooth and crisp.
My providers have commented, when I asked them specifically, that the paperwork to/from the VA is painful and time-consuming for them…but I think that is probably the case for all the Government medical programs, including Tricare, Medicare, etc.
A lone voice of kudos for the program here in San Diego, and a shout out for justice for all those Veterans who have NOT received the proper VA care or have problems with Choice!
Can we asked Why you left the VA for treatment on the outside.
RE: How is it that all attempts to fix VA require additional efforts to fix the fixes? The reason is that the VA thrives on incompetence …And the reason for THAT is civil service protections….It’s difficult to impossible to fire an incompetent worker or manager so the VA has filled up with them. AND they all protect each with such vehemence because if firing incompetents becomes easier, THEY will be out of a job…Incompetence has become a permanant feed-back loop….and the only way to fix that is to remove civil service protection.
The worst part of this who thing is that I have had issue with the veterans Choice program and Senator Mark Kirk is my Senator from my state of Illinois. I have tried to get hold of him via phone calls and emails and have never gotten a response from him or his office. I luckily or unluckily have got a response from my congressman office. The issue that they state is that The VA Choice program is not monitored o or have any oversight from any entity except themselves so what are they going to do provide the least amount of service and get the most money that they can from the VA. So they program needs a total overhaul and the bill needs to be rewritten.
That’s RIGHT. Healthnet is administering this fucked up program with no oversight from anyone. The VA is just now assessing all the complaints coming into them from veterans on the program, and of course, the VA has NO ANSWERS for the veterans because they know LESS than the veterans on how this AIN’T working for anyone. By the way, senators (small s) do not respond to veterans in most any state. Representatives do so because they have to act like they are closer to the people in their district and they will be your “listening ear” for all your problems. Know what? Our government doesn’t work anymore. That’s what.
In some respects, I think senators are listening a little closer now to vets than they used to. I think McCain, and senators in Wisconsin found out how quickly things can go sideways on them when a VA scandal breaks publicly, and vets start reporting they had contacted a senators office about problems and never heard from them.
When I called my senators office yesterday and asked for his vets affairs case manager, she sounded rather concerned about what I was telling her about the HealthNet/Veterans Choice fiasco, and sounded at one point as if she had been told lies by the VA about what I was telling her.
She was the one who offered to do an inquiry to the VA on my behalf if I wanted, but I said I wanted her to hold off until I found out whether the VA would provide an MRI.
Since I have emailed her a detailed timeline on contacts with HealthNet, I will forward an update to her when I call them again tomorrow.
Will it get results? I don’t know. I have forwarded the same details to reporters covering the Colorado Springs wait list that has just been uncovered.
Good luck.my experience is people will be glad to forward complaints to different agencies for the veterans.but that’s all that gets done.
They return it to the very people doing the harm and those employees answer their own inquiries.even when they are the problem.
Told by senators Bennett’s office.we can ask questions.but cannot do an investigation or force the VA to complete an investigation.
The director of the Denver vamc told his office that they never coded my official medical records for disruptive behavior and they never red flagged my official medical records and they never completed an investigation.
The senators office had all the records showing they did punish me.but even when they lied right to their face.nothing was ever done.
The same thing happens when you go to the DAV.employees doing the harm answer any and all inquires themselves.
In fact my local DAV rep did such a good job on my case.the manager who I was complaining about and harmed me.
Hired the DAV rep and now I have another employee.I have to worry about. I don’t feel well.but I don’t want to go to the VA.knowing they will and can falsely accuse me of disruptive behavior and they don’t have to provide proof just say it.
The disruptive committee is a illegal committee punishing veterans and the veterans have no avenue to fight back.
Your guilty.not innocent until proven guilty.all civil and constitutional rights are being trampled on and the veterans have no say so.
Veterans cannot compete with people who hold the purse strings and employees know if they stay quite and look the other way.they will get a bonus.just in time for Christmas.
I’m not trump.so I can’t afford to fight an endless pit of ?.
I know what you are saying. It ultimately comes down to how the veteran approaches the senator’s office, how good verbally you can hang it, the type of person you happen to get on the phone, whether the senator is a Dem or Rep (Dem. senators offices will usually not want to tangle with Obama’s pick of BMcD; Rep. senator offices will listen and conduct as with you), etc. I’ll bet you are dealing with a republican senator’s office.
Anyway, the VA don’t tell these people anything. Just like everyone else it’s hard for them to believe a veteran describe just how bad the VA is in such detail. It is an eye opener to them all because it is soooo bad that it’s unbelievable what you have to say to them. Any gov. office will not admit to the blatant corruption at the VA (part of the gov.) nor can ever imagine how a company be so ridiculously terrible as is Healthnet. When I yell at Healthnet,they aren’t about to go tell VA about it. What I am doing actually is turning the very large hospital system against Healthnet. I talk to the correct people at the health system I’m using and put them in agreement with me about healthnet. In other words, they also hate healthnet, and healthnet is scared of getting “bounced” by the VA. The VA intends to create a NEW Choice program and it’s initiative is to make friends with community providers – not to hear that they won’t accept choice anymore. Healthnet is taking heat, they are hearing from the VA now because just everyone is having a bad time with this idiotic program administered by dopes.
I’d be interested in hearing how you made out with your endeavors/results. Keep us posted.
I certainly will provide an update. I will call tomorrow, then next week I will start calling daily.
Have you found it easy to get a supervisor on the phone? If I could get one on the phone I think I could rattle one enough to get them to provide some revealing information.
That has happened every time I have called so far because they get tongue tied and can’t answer my questions.
Yes it was a Republican senators office.
@ 91Vet: When the rep that first answers your phone call to the toll free number (of Choice), my tactic is to say something real nice like “I really like your name” or “you sound like you spent all day dealing with veterans complaints….isn’t this Choice program ridiculous? It certainly is wearing on all you reps, I could imagine”. They will then open up and be in agreement with you and in many cases will do whatever you ASK. I then ask if I can speak to the “authorization ” people and also say “a supervisor would be the person that can straighten out my mess. I spoke to xxx yesterday and want to follow up. (I make up a name – they have no idea I’m BS’ing them because they are the “telephone bank” people) They ALWAYS put me on with the higher level authorization people and that’s when I start getting aggressive and unforgiving and turn on my business tone of voice (no more stroking). This way I bypass the first line of people – the phone answerers – and get to the juice real fast. I see how that person’s tone is when I say I want to solve my current problem right now. I make a judgment of how mean I should get from there – sort of work towards it. I often ask if they are the supervisor, and/or insist that they put their supervisor on. I then tell them what I expect to be corrected or that I want “you to make a call to my non-VA provider ” and I give them the provider’s name and # and let them know that the provider is very “unhappy” with “you people”.
You have to put them on the spot on every call you make. The Healthnet people are getting tied up in knots with the enormous load of complaints from just about every veteran and they seem to be very pressed with the workload they created for themselves.
I hope that helps a little bit
Good answers. I haven’t worked my way to a supervisor yet, I figured I would see how many times they would give me the same BS excuse.
I may have commented on this, but I found out a few days ago that the Choice provider wouldn’t even see me without an MRI first. I called my Primary Care doc Wednesday, and they said they would submit the request, and I would get a call from radiology. I expected to wait several days before getting that call telling me I had an appointment 3 weeks from now. I had a voice mail from them last night, I called them today, and they set an appointment for Feb 26.
Something has the VA rattled because they have NEVER moved this fast before.
Now if Choice would just move and set an appointment.
You my friend, have style
You are correct in that Healthnet does not really have anyone following up on them. That it is why it is imperative that the Veterans constantly call Healthnet to make sure that they are making their appointments. Being a case manager at the VA, I am told that once a Veteran is switched over to a Choice Provider I am pretty much “hands off”. Well, ethically I just can’t do this because I need to make sure that my patients are being taken care of so I myself have sat on the phone with Healthnet for 1hour and 30 minutes the other day to ensure that my patient was getting scheduled properly.
Every program initiated by the VA fails! Sound programs cannot be effectively implemented by VA employees! Veterans are held hostage for medical care that benefits VA staff, VA Doctors and VA researchers! Give Veterans the liberty to obtain medical care privately rather than facing delays and death at the hands of the VA.
My wife sent this article to me. It’s full of “drug abuse by VA employees”, “drug charges against VA employees”, giving heroin to elderly veterans “to speed up their death”, and much, much more! It’s definitely worth googling;
“Board reverses firing of another VA executive”
by Jazz Shaw
Also, when y’all Google this. There’s a bunch of reports by different individuals concerning this. If you’ll send this to Ben, I’d be grateful!
Maybe Beenie Baby can explain this one!
I will not respond to Beenie Baby. She evidently is a Democratic Liberal.
She also is not researching the many reports coming out from many news sources. Which include military sources, VA-OIG, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, VAWatchdog dot org, DAVReform dot org. and many more! She also referenced these “sources” as not being reputable!
She also “claims” the numerous “veterans suicide rate…” (22 each day) cannot be blaimed entirely on the VA. Which I somewhat agree with! Yet, what is causing all these vets to take their own lives?
Go to yesterdays blog to read the things she’s written!
I think elf many veterans take their lives by the VA not treating them.maybe are $1 over the limit to qualify for care.
Told they must be service connected for treatment.regional office denying their claim.making them feel like liers.
Calling them drug seekes.their lazy.why don’t you just kill yourself.
If veterans don’t know the secret word.I feel suicidal. If they don’t say I’m suicidal.the VA will make an appointment and send them on their way.
Were will the homeless get their appointment.no address.so what to do.
I’m in pain.um fill no one cares.um the VA blew me off.um I’m alone.
Um the VA got me hooked on oxy and cut me off cold Turkey.um death sounds pretty good.they say I’m not worth anything.
Probably a lot more ums!
My favorite of Beenie so far is where she infers that “…Veterans CHOOSE to be Homeless…”, and while there is a % of any Homeless Populace that may well ‘choose’ to live totally off the grid, this is NOT true at least 90% of time. I have kept quiet and watched you all feed the troll….but since you mentioned something over here, I had to let out my inner steam about her generalized comments…almost in like she and hers are doing okay, so all is wonderful in Wonderland. Rose colored glasses are SO not in during Winter months….LOL 🙂
@namnibor & James
Did y’all Google the article I gave here? It’s brand new? I think it said Jan. 29th 2016!
The article even “talks” about how Gibson will not be sending her back to her position. Unless the judge orders it.
Y’all gotta read it. Read a couple of the articles. Each one has a little different spin.
You’ll love the mess VA got themselves into on this one!
I read today the article in the Colorado Springs Gazette about the delays in care there. Right after reading it I called Senator Cory Gardner’s office and asked for his veterans affairs case manager. Based on that call, I have written up my experience with delayed care here in western Colorado, and in the lack of care using the Veterans Choice program. The Choice program is a giant disaster with no oversight by Congress, but Congress is finally waking up.
I was authorized by the VA to use Choice because they don’t have a neurosurgeon on staff at my VA. 34 days after reporting shooting pain down my legs caused by limping from knee replacement surgery, I am still waiting on Choice to approve the referral and make the appointment. The VA approved the need for Choice, then Choice decides whether the veteran needs the appointment which is ridiculous. I have called HealthNet repeatedly since January, and repeatedly get excuses. The VA doesn’t care because they believe I am getting care through Choice. It doesn’t matter how long it takes.
I still believe the funding for Choice was a payoff to Nancy Pelosi and California. HealthNet is big in California and is part of their ObamaCare exchange. George Miller retired from Congress in 2014 and is now an executive with HealthNet. He has been close to Pelosi for many years.
HealthNet had been sanctioned by the government in the past, but they must have had the right connections to get billions more from Congress for Choice,
The only Choice veterans are getting are choosing to keep calling and getting excuses, from the VA, from HealthNet and from Congress.
But I may be just bitching because Beanie Baby says her husband gets good VA care.
I was approved for choice 1st program back in July for vascular surgery on my carotid artery. As you know, Healthnet is the company contracted by the VA to administer the program. Healthnet , which is a private company that does work for the Federal Government (they do Medicaid programs for states too) and is considered to be one of the top 10 worst companies in the U.S. (in company with Time Warner Cable and Comcast) for shitty customer service, went ahead and staffed their call centers with people hired off the street with hardly any training in anything – just told to read off statements prepared for them by the VA to anyone that calls the toll free number – veterans or providers.
It was a living hell for me because they botched up my “request for additional services” called into them by my main surgeon’ staff to be checked out (cleared) prior to the surgery by various cardiologist and cath lab procedures. I was on the phone just about every day for about 5 months talking, yelling and cussing them out for being such royal fuck-ups. I was a mean, nasty bastard to them and still am – as I am still straightening their dumb asses out. I don’t even start with the rep. – I ask for the “supervisor of the shithouse” the second someone takes my call. I tell them what retards they are and I tell them I want to speak to the head turdball there. Then I dump on them like a madman.
My blood pressure was raised in that I have to double my BP meds, and I intend to file for fucking compensation for that. All the VA doctors at my VA hospital know how much “Choice” SUCKS by now because they have been hearing this from ALL the veterans they approved for Choice. My non-VA provider, a humongous healthcare system, will not accept Choice anymore – I was the first one on that program with them , and they told Healthnet I will be the last one. They will, however, accept fee-basis from the VA.
The president and executive staff of Healthnet, meanwhile, are rolling in $$ by “administering” the program. The VA is just now hearing from thousands of people like me ( and I hope you too) what a failure Choice really is. I was told by a “non-VA program” worker who was put on special duty to handle “complaints” that the VA has given Healthnet a couple of weeks to straighten everybody’s “mess” out or their contract will be terminated with the VA. We will see what happens. As for me, I call them every day to tell the supervisors what shit brains they are.
I thought I would throw a little of my adventure out there for you – and to expect the same.
You have a right to be mad.please be aware if you should contact the VA with your concerns.
Make sure you don’t get your blood pressure up.the VA is quick to say you were disruptive and then your blood pressure will really go up.
Some veterans don’t have to do anything and they were reported as being disruptive and punished and the VA does not care How you feel.
This program was doomed from the start.it was the VAs plan.so they can say told You so.
Just be aware there are employees that will make you seem unstable and once your reported the disruptive committee will punish you.they don’t need evidence.their word is good enough !
Do away with the VA.there’s going to be a lot of farm jobs opening up soon.then the VA employees can complain to the farmer.
I won’t say I am happy to hear of your problems with HealthNet, but I am happy to hear you are holding them accountable.
I have read a number of stories about how bad they are in paying claims in the civilian world and how bad their customer service is.
I seriously despise a company like that taking so much money from the taxpayers, then screwing those same taxpayers. Given their history, I cannot fathom how such a company with such a poor track record EVER got another contract with the government other than political connections. So far I’ve only seen the connection between George Miller and Pelosi. I would like to know if there are more politicians blatantly screwing veterans.
I don’t know what the Senator is complaining about, the Choice Program works great for me, uh, well, okay. Only because I choose not to go to the VA for anything anymore. This is because the Disruptive Behavior Committee and List system works so well too, and they use it to F with vets to cut their work load down knowing many of us will do the same thing I did, as in NEVER GO BACK TO THE VA FOR ANYTHING OR ANY REASON.
The VA is ran by sneaky evil bastards from the top down, it is socialized medicine at its finest, which is why it blows!
Signed, a 100% service-connected disabled vet.
Same here. Northport VAMC, seems upset with me , FOIA- Financials, personal audit, submitted to VOIG , Director resigns, ( actually transferred) Chief Information Officer Retires. Now, Wilkes-Barre VAMC, October 2015, seeking Homeless Assistance, VA Police kind enough to ride the elevators with me, kept my car safe in parking lot.
Soon, going to spread my charm with Philadelphia VAMC. Any advice?
Hey, anybody else feel like a Targeted Individual ?
1 in a million.can’t even get them to call back with an appointment.
I wish they would let me see everyone on the outside.but so many stories of the VA not paying and the veterans stuck fighting the VA to pay and after you call and call they will get pissed off and report you to the disruptive committee for complaining.
Just do away with it and let veterans see whom ever they want and cut off the middle man the VA.
I bet the VA has harmed more veterans than helped.clinics.hospital and regional office.
What did you do to be reported disruptive, me nothing. 0. And they know it.but punished me anyway. What proof did they use.were there any written evidence.
I have a low number of specialty providers in my area, even lower that accept Choice Program, but they would take the old Fee Basis. My massage Therapist is still waiting for their first 12 payments, but they won’t deny me treatment because of that, thankfully.
Good to hear you even got your approved. After going to a massage therapist for a while under Fee-Basis, Choice has turned my many request by my physician down because they say it now has to go to a licensed Physical Therapist which we all know won’t just do massage. They state there are no Massage Therapist in Network but I found after calling, that’s not the issue as much as they won’t approve licensed massage therapist unless they are innetwork physical therapist. This is a joke. I have had nothing but problems with this system since they went from feebasis to Choice, Choice Champion, Tri-West, and all the other departments they spend there money on now to help Fee basis which don’t work.
RIGHT ON Timothy Choice Card is a waste of money and time.
You hit it on the nose.
Dump the Unions and you will solve most of the problem. Once they can fire people for cause, accountability will improve.
Unions protect their own, not the Vets, they don’t fight for the taxpayer who foots the bill, they get the deal and then look away. They cant lose their jobs.
I learned today that 2.4 Billion dollars were taken from VA to help Syrian refugee’s displaced in their civil war. Our government is paying them to come here and giving them Walmart gift cards to help them buy furniture and clothes.
VA’s governmental bureaucracy is too entrenched and rigid to change, and, will remain this way as long as it, and, its unions, are isolated from free market forces.
I have been waiting since May of 2015 for Healthnet to pay for an MRI that I was authorized to have, now the hospital is coming after me. This program is a joke, I was authorized 26 chiropractic appointments with the same program. My chiropractor now refuses to see me until he gets paid from the 1st 5 appointments.
You should contact your Congress Representatives and your local news and main stream news about your situation. I would contact Rep. Miller, whom is on Congressional Veterans Committee….does not matter in this case if you are one of his constituents in Florida, Rep. Miller being on the Congressional Veterans Committee makes him open game to each and every Veteran. Hope that helps.
I know all that fine print on the “Choice Card” makes it about 5 ways the VA can refuse payment…and add a 6th…just because.
Write up your Choice experience in as detailed a way as possible and mail them in a letter to Jeff Miller with a copy to your Congressman.
The Government Accountability Office will be conducting an investigation into the Choice program starting this spring, and as many veterans as possible need to send them their comments so Congress knows what a disaster it has been.
Several Senators and Congressmen have requested that investigation because they have been hearing from their constituents on how bad it is.
To anyone who is reads this can you give me your name of Local Newspaper because I want to find out if I can put I need in Classified ADS how to improve Veterans Healthcare. ……Semper Fi Thanks.
My two local newspapers are;
1.) “The Daytona Beach News Journal”
2.) “The Orlando Sentinel” out of Orlando, Florida
crazy elf Thanks. ….SEMPER FI Stay Healthy.
Have you crazy elf have you put your belief in your newspaper about your feelings about how to improve Veterans Healthcare. ….Semper Fi.
Daily Courier Prescott, Az.
How come I keep getting bills from providers that Choice sent me to for treatment, stating its been over 90 days with no payment so I’m responsible for it now. There goes my Credit Rating again due to the VA, for the Second, Third and Fouth time.
Timothy i know for a Fact you can place a Classified AD in the Daily Courier i did its not expensive. ….please reply back. ….SEMPER Fi liived in Prescott Valley, Arizona i go to PRESCOTT VETERAN MEDICAL FOR MY HEALTHCARE NEEDS.
Nice scam.forcing veterans to go back to the VA.by not paying the Bill’s.
I bet the VA will continue not to pay and veterans will have no choice.but to go to the VA.
And the VA keeping a list of all veterans that used the choise program and report those veterans as being disruptive.so they can punish them for using outside doctor’s.
Look at what they have done to veterans so far.I put nothing passed them.
DID YOU GET MY MESSAGE Timothy.
I have been carefully noting what the VA and Choice says regarding billing because I fully expect to get billed if I ever get an appointment. Choice blames providers for not properly billing, so they go after the easy money which is veterans. I am told by the VA that it is up to the veteran to contact the provider and Choice to make sure the billing is coded properly.
That is bullshit. If Choice has provided an authorization number and the provider has that, then Choice should be paying the bill without hesitation. As it is, the VA claims Choice reviews the authorization before approving it, then claims Choice delays payments because they are reviewing it again. There is no need for a second review of they authorized it in the first place.
Do as I mentioned above and write up your experience with Choice and mail it to Miller. Provide copies of the authorization from Choice, copies of the bill, and copies of any letters from collection agencies.
There is no reason why political cronies should be pocketing billions while veterans are forced to pay for their own care.
Timothy do you work for Daily Courier which Veteran Medical Center you used Prescott, Phoenix, or Tucson hopefully you as Veterans can hooked up to Give these Politicians Hell.
Hmm, a joke? Naaa I call it what it is, a clusterf**k!
Card says that you have to call before using it, or that the VA will not pay for the doctor or hospital visit. So I guess that means if I am having a heart attack I have to call the VA BEFORE the ambulance?
Card says the VA has the right to refuse payment. Ok then why in the he!! did you give it to us to use if you can refuse to pay for this?
Card says that you have to call in five to seven working days to make the appointment BEFORE the card can be used or again the VA can refuse to pay for it. Ok if something serious is going to happen five to seven working days from now, I am going to be at the hospital to make sure that we do everything we can to prevent it, and not worry about the VA. Jeeze who writes this stuff up?
And the best and funnest thing about the card? It has VA all over the bloody thing front and back. So you think its from the VA right? WRONG! You call the telephone number on the card to activate it and they freely tell you that the issuers of the card are NOT connected with the VA or a part of the VA . So call me stupid, but of they are not connected with the VA or part of same, then what in the he!! are they doing issuing VA cards?
As I said, a clusterf**k.
You got that right, it is a “cluster ****”, and engineered with tons of red tape in a complex spider web in a way only the VA could muster up.
I understand McCain had something to do with the original bill. I believe that answers our VA’s “Cluster Fμ€k”!
Yea. I gave two newspapers here in Florida. Hope “Sunshine” isn’t. If s/he is, oh well, good luck finding me lmao!
The Choice card is administered by HealthNet, and the VA told me they consider HealthNet to be a third party payer for any Choice appointments, so the VA could care less if you are getting treatment or not, or getting billed.
When I called HealthNet yesterday, I was told they are Veterans Choice, which has nothing to do with HealthNet. She claimed Veterans Choice acts as the middle man between VA and HealthNet.
This was a disaster from the word go because Congress wrote the legislation simply as a way to make it appear they are doing something for vets.
Congress giving the VA a blank check/fund transfer and expecting the VA to “do the right thing” is also insane. Our President stated he had FULL FAITH in VA Sec. and The VA to “do the right thing”.
Define “thing”, please?
Sad to hear of these nightmares you all or most at least, are dealing with. That would stress me out beyond belief wondering if the VA was going to pay the bill timely, then get sent to collections, and then to try to make one’s credit upstanding, pay the damn bill, then the VA finally pays Healthnet, Veteran tries to get $$$ out of pocket that the VA was supposed to pay, the VA says “Prove it”! Can see it already.
Doing a quick google search again shows nothing positive about this Medicaid/Obamacare Meat Mill of a company.
Using these low-grade middlemen companies to “administer/ration Choice” is like trusting Bernie Madoff to your savings while he is in prison…to do the right thing.
Lots of oxymoronic head-spinning cluster f***, yes it is.
The choice program is contractors two months still no reply.except to tell me someone will contact me probably the disruptive committee.
Some thing needs fixen
You asked, “When is it time to rock-n-roll with that bathwater?”
Pretty soon but I predict that does not happen anytime soon.
Because the VA has already quite quickly figured out “The Choice Act” is a HUGE cookie jar of a$$et$ always there for the plucking. No one is holding the VA’s face against the wall, demanding accountability aggressively and we have already seen the recent song and dance that the VA calls accountability….NOT.
Wait for it….I predict the VA will very soon want to steal say a few Billion MORE from Choice or even go as far as asking Congress for a few Billion MORE FROM CHOICE very soon.
Why, you may ask?
I predict the VA will use the Zika Virus as an excuse just as they did this time, same station last year, but they used the Hepatitis C Drug as an excuse then….and since the VA probably just saw that the CDC is asking for about $2 Billion additional funding to fight the Zika Virus…I can only logically predict the VA is not far behind with hands open again…wait for it.
So no, I do not see the baby getting thrown out with the bathwater (Choice Act) anytime soon and never mind that outside providers are either not getting paid or being asked for delayed payment…all an orchestrated mess and job security by keeping Vets from timely care…scary circus music fades-in and out………..soup of the day is a “Steeped Veteran Bath Water Carefully Crafted Choice Act Gumbo”.
I should add that we Veterans are the “shrimp” in that “Gumbo”. No Bob, I did NOT say “Dumbo”…clean out those ears and get back to whatever you were not doing 🙂
Did you hear where Shinazi, the doc who took over the VHA portion of VA, RESIGNED on, I think, Feb 1st or 2nd.
Because the Congressional Committee wanted answers over that HEP-C “miracle drug” he allegedly came up with. And sold to a drug company for millions of $$$$! All while he worked with VA equipment and on VA property, allegedly for just a few hours a day.
He didn’t last long at all as the new “Chief in Charge”, did he?
I found that on
“military dot com” yesterday.
I also have a feeling VA (McDonald or Gibson) will be back in front of Congress looking for BILLIONS of taxpayer’s monies within the next 60 days. If not sooner.
Where is all this “diverted monies” going?
I have a theory. It’s NOT going within the halls of VA! Therefore, it’s NOT going anywhere which will help veterans!
I ha not read that until today about Dr. Shinazi’s resignation. I guess when Pleading The Fifth is **just not good enough**, you make a hissy-fit and resign….but still collect Million$ from your VA Developed Drug that he sells back to VA for top dollars??!
Amazing, simply amazing.
@crazyelf- Pretty sure VA Trolls are posting on yesterday’s article and one of the two is not so obvious, asking where you live and your local newspaper…something seriously stinks in the wood pile over there and I called one of the more obvious VA Trolls out over there towards end of posts….do not feed the trolls.
Dear Benjamin Krause,
The Court papers are something to view.
The Cocktails remain the same and the treatments are not available [Waiting Periods being shuffled].
The engagement and integration throughout the system is not seen.
That is why this Choice Program is a Joke and Attorneys throughout this nation call the whole damn thing a “Sad Joke.” But is not a “Sad Joke” it is Treason at its best and few utter the word boldly.
Enjoy the read,
Daily Caller News Foundation
VA Chief Of Opiate Safety Charged In Drug Deaths Of Three
Photo of Luke Rosiak
Read more: https://dailycaller.com/2016/02/05/va-chief-of-opiate-safety-charged-in-drug-deaths-of-three/#ixzz3zed8Qt5F
A Department of Veterans Affairs hospital hired a doctor as its chief of opiate safety shortly after his privileges were suspended in another state, when 35 patients died of drug issues in his care.
Dr. John K. Sturman Jr. was hauled out of a VA meeting in handcuffs in August and charged with three counts of homicide and 16 felony counts of issuing invalid prescriptions.
The VA hospital in Danville, Illinois, had hired the pain doctor in April, 2015, after the dozens of deaths, which occurred in Indiana, and despite the fact that he lost his privileges in Indiana in 2012, and had been reprimanded for his use of opiates in California in 2003.
Fifteen patients died of overdose or toxicity within a month of receiving treatment from him between 2009 and 2012, according to charging papers that say he “recklessly killed another human … by writing and/or issuing prescriptions.”
He allegedly had a pattern of giving obvious drug addicts frequently-abused drugs without medical cause, and billing the charges to Medicaid.
The VA hospital tasked him with implementing its “Opiod Safety Initiative.”
VA has not informed any of the 96 veterans being treated by him for pain management of the charges, and says it didn’t know about prior discipline, which was easily discoverable on Google.
The arrest stemmed from an investigation by Indiana’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, indicating he was billing taxpayers for the abuse of heroin-like drugs.
Although both California and Indiana had problems with his prescribing practices, the VA was comfortable with them, finding that “Dr. Sturman did diligently implement OSI,” despite finding that five of his cases were “complex” due to “challenges involved in management of care.”
That is despite one veteran filing a complaint with the VA saying, “He gave me pain meds that didn’t help my pain and made me addicted to the pain meds … Since this happened the VA has done nothing to make sure I am okay,” he said. “I just can’t wait until I get Social Security so I never have to be seen by the careless doctors at the VA.”
Sturman has resigned from the VA, and in his absence vets can’t be seen for pain treatment at the facility and are bounced back to their primary care doctors, the VA said.
Charging papers lay out a litany of examples in which Sturman was allegedly giving opiates to plainly drug-seeking addicts, with little evidence of actual medical need, and billing taxpayers via Medicaid for the opiates.
A medical review of one of the deceased, for example, found “a prescriptive pattern of high dose polypharmacy for purposes of addiction and not for the treatment of chronic pain. Addiction behaviors, substance abuse and alcoholism are clearly documented in the chart, but Dr. John Sturman continues to prescribe methadone, Dilaudid, and Valium without a legitimate medical purpose.”
“Sturman demonstrates willful blindness with the continued prescriptive use of high dose methadone,” a doctor who reviewed the deaths says in charging papers. “There is no evidence that Dr. John Sturman considered psychiatric or substance abuse counseling as part of the treatment plan. The treatment plan is entirely opiate centric.”
To another patient who died, Sturman had given 81 prescriptions in two and a half years.
To a third patient, described as a 250-pound female welfare recipient with a history of drug abuse, he gave large doses of opiates, even though she never showed up for months of appointments and, when she did, her urine showed illegal drug use.
Sturman was willing to prescribe “multiple high dose opiates based on subjective patient complaints and without additional medical evaluation,” the review said. “Opiates plus methadone plus benzodiazepine is recognized as a street popular and lethal combination of prescription medication. It is not a medically legitimate regiment.”
Googling Sturman’s name before hiring him would have immediately alerted VA hiring managers to his past opiate safety problems. A top search result for his name is a 2003 listing in the LA Times’ “Bad Docs” section that says he “failed to obtain supporting documentation for conditions producing chronic pain, and failed to document a treatment plan for the patient’s addiction to a Schedule IV controlled drug. Disciplined via public letter of reprimand.”
Sturman was unemployed from July of 2012 until February of 2014, which also could have been a red flag to VA hiring managers for a field with high demand for doctors’ services. The VA has a severe shortage of doctors, and claims that the reason is that it takes a long time to hire them because of an extensive vetting process.
Stulman lost his admitting privileges in 2012, and in 2013, Indiana’s licensing renewal process flagged him for further review because he answered “yes” on a form asking whether he had been recently disciplined.
Yet VA’s hiring process failed to catch him in a similar manner.
“At the time Dr. Sturman was hired, the National Practitioner Database (NPDB) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) were clear with no actions,” the VA wrote to Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk. “VAIHCS was not aware that he was under federal investigation nor was he ever under investigation by the Department of Veteran [sic] Affairs.”
This statement is odd since Sturman was under state investigation, not federal.
The charges carry decades in prison. He made bail of $60,000 in Indiana and his trial was set for October 2015. But a judge recused himself because of a conflict of interest, and the trial was postponed.
Now, Sturman could get off lightly because of a controversial interpretation of the five-year statute of limitations. On December 11, a judge dismissed the three homicide charges and all but six of the 16 felony drug charges.
One of the patients died on August 6, 2010, one day under five years from when he was arrested on August 5, 2015. The other two whose deaths he is charged in died in December 2011.
But the judge appeared to conclude that since he started prescribing them before their deaths, the statute of limitations should begin on that date. Whereas someone can be charged with murder even if the victim doesn’t die of the injuries until years later, for homicide, the statute is based on whether the defendant’s actions “commenced.”
In prosecutors’ view, Sturman’s prescription practices were “but one continuous crime.” The state of Indiana filed an appeal last month.
The dangerous doping up of veterans, seemingly because it is easier than dealing with the causes of their conditions, has been a major issue at other VA facilities, including Tomah, Wisc. — where a top doctor was known as the “Candy Man” — since well before VA hired Sturman.
TheDCNF reported last month that the director of Sturman’s hospital was found by VA headquarters to have rarely come in to work, and to have threatened to fire a subordinate for reporting that, but that civil service rules prevented Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson from firing him, so Gibson paid him more than $100,000 to resign.
“As Chairman of the subcommittee that oversees federal funding for the VA, I will not rest until we end the culture of corruption at the VA,” Kirk told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
Here in this case you see quickly that the County gets involved deeply [the prosecutor]
This Doctor was dishing out the “Tomah Wisconsin Cocktails”—6 different types of Opiates and the Speed and the Muscle relaxers [April 2014 filing]. Obviously leaving a trail of Death were ever he went [35 Ill, 15 IN, ?? in CA]—One Doctor—50 kills.
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