Choice Program

Choice Program Needs $421 Million Fix Says VA Exec

Choice Program

Benjamin KrauseLast week, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson finally admitted the agency created a confusing mess that needed fixing right out of the box when it developed the Veterans Choice Program last year.

Isn’t it interesting that whenever VA admits to failure, they also seek money in the same breath? Why is it that whenever taxpayers push VA to create a new initiative, we get the equivalent of a broken product straight away? Would you ever by a broken, new car?

It apparently took Gibson and the agency one year of listening to veterans’ difficulties accessing the program to admit it was broken, “It’s all too complicated. Too complicated for veterans, for community providers, and for VA staff was well.”

RELATED: Jon Stewart Nails It On Veterans Choice Card

How did it take VA a full year, gripes from veterans, media embarrassment, piled on with even more media embarrassment – a double scoop of embarrassment?

Does this mean VA leadership misled the public and Congress when they claimed the reason veterans were not using the Veterans Choice Program because they love VA care? So in fact the reason vets still used VA was because they could not make it through the confusing Choice Program maze?


Gibson said the next steps for the program will be to consolidate some seven different programs into one streamlined program. He said the new change will allow veterans to see a private doctor when VA cannot seem them in a timely manner.

RELATED: Veterans Choice Farce Exposed By Dying Veteran On TV

Now, wasn’t that the plan all along? Wasn’t VA supposed to create “Choice” so that veterans would easily access community care? Is this an admission that VA was still not allowing veterans to access the care Veterans Choice was supposed to allow?

Like most things, it seems whenever VA admits some failure, they also come to the table with their hat in hand looking for more cash from Congress. VA will need $421 million as a one-time injection to make the minor tweaks so that vets can have a “choice.”


Gibson said the money will help the VA clarify patient eligibility requirements, improve co-pay and processing procedures, and create a good network of approved doctors. One underlying goal is to facilitate medical record sharing between the public and private sector.

But some lawmakers rebuked Gibson’s plea.

RELATED: Reporter Wins Emmy For Veterans Choice Story

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) complained about current failures in the program to develop the care network originally promised due to his state’s complete lack of a full-service hospital. “On behalf of my veterans, I’m pissed,” said Sen. Sullivan. VA promised to set up a pilot program to create a network of private doctors but VA did not follow through.

What do you think the angle is on this one?


Since the Choice Program was implemented, numerous private medical centers across the country now refuse to accept it. They claim VA refuses to pay in the timely manner and that the program is a complete train wreck.

Will VA be able to repair those relationships with doctors that they damaged over the past year? Will doctors trust VA to pay them in a timely manner after creating a track record of noncompliance?


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  1. In North Carolina, Charlotte, The whole Carolinas HealthCare System which is enormous and covers the states of North and South Carolina (60,000 employee organization) declared to Choice and the VA that they won’t accept Choice program anymore because they don’t have the resources to spend 2 hours per call every day to deal with the stupid, uninformed, time wasting jerks at Choice (Healthnet, etc.). I was the first and only patient to use it and it is a nightmare cause I also spent hours on the phone with them (Choice) almost every day for the last 5 months. They don’t understand their own business (healthcare). I spoke to doctors and specialists at my VA who “have heard” the program is a nightmare.
    The VA is not going to convince any provider in the whole country to take part in their idea of a service that isn’t fit for slugs. The VA is out of touch. Now they want to force feed this garbage down everyone’s throats, and make a half billion doing it.

    1. I been writing about how they use the disruptive committee to hurt veterans.if they just don’t like.

      I’ve written to my congressmen Bennett in Colorado.he was appointed by the president and he does not care about it.nor does Bob McDonald’s office.nor the dav.

      I spoke with Bob McDonald’s office twice and his assistant Stephanie.seems like it’s a bother and told me twice that the employee who reported me as being disruptive on numerous occasions no longer works for the VA.well the evil employee is still working hard at hurting veterans.

      I told McDonald’s office if they continue to ignore the problem it would be reported to the house committee on veterans affairs.

      I called the committes office today and spoke with Zack and he gave me an email address of [email protected] and he told me to send an email with the needed information and I did.

      These people are so out of touch.their really dangerous to veterans.

      So if you all want them to know how you feel about the VA.send them an email.

      Flood that office and let them know we veterans have had enough of the VA getting away with murder and mameing the rest of the veterans with their illegal committee.

      Lets get our VA back and put the disruptive employees in jail.see how they like it.being treated like dirt.

    2. VA CHOICE PROGRAM MORE $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ LIPSTICK ON THE VA DC HQ PIG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. I have been reading the post with great interest and there seems to be one thing that is missing from all of the post. As it is easy to blame the VA Health Care system for all our problems it started when Our Congress passed a bill that was never vetted correctly. The Choice program which is the bill that Congress signed was the green light for the insurance industry to get involved, which we know now was a very big mistake. It is also the road towards a social policy for veterans. Now the problem was that Our Congress, most generally has their head up their ass, when it comes to veteran issues, thought they were fixing a problem by reinventing the wheel that was not broken. The Fee Basis program worked very well and could be navigated fairly easy by our vendors. The Triwest Heath Care and HealthNet have made a paper night mare for vendors. They are not getting paid, are dropping out of the system and will be very difficult to get them involved again. In the end the veteran is the one who getting the colonoscopy! Of course we are just the little guys in this big mess. How do we fix it. I think that the veterans organizations, VFW, DAV, Legion, ect; ect; ect; need to demand that hearings be conducted to where did all the billions go. The insurance companies are the ones who received all the bucks not the VA. The Fee Basis system was required to forward all billing to TriWest and HealthNet and act as the go between but their authorithy for the program was taken from them. I have also read that Triwest and HealthNet are so sure that the contract is going to get renewed that they have brought on board other vendors, I’m sure are in their network, yet they are asking for more monies and will not pay their outstanding debits. This has also caused problems with non payment of vendors contacting collection agencies to serve veterans for non payment. As veterans what we need to do is contact our Congressional Rep’s and Senators with our issues. I have been working in my small corner of Southwest Colorado to bring these issues to light. I know it is difficult but you need to be the wheel that needs the grease. Maybe what we need is a march on D.C. to make our point!

  2. I’m sorry but you can’t fix stupid. And choice is stupid. I have had so many issues with them. From having a consult for over a month and cancelling it because they said they couldn’t find a provider, the day after I spoke to a line supervisor who told me that she was assigning that consult to one person to get it scheduled. To calling me five times telling me they can’t find a provider who performs a test after I had told them the name of the provider who performs the test on the previous four calls. And about 5 other issues. Now, I have been going to a certain massage therapist for 3 years due to massive spacticity and instead of extending it like has been done the whole time they wanted another consult. But when my provider put it in they sent it to a physical therapist who called me saying he doesn’t do massage therapy and neither do any of the other physical therapist our area. So when I called to inform them they said that the massage therapy now had to be done by a physical therapist. I miss just having the old fee basis consults sent to us to schedule our appointments, but that must have been to easy for the va. So now let’s send the consults to fee basis, who in turn sends it to tri-west, choice, or choice champions and open up more departments so we can spend more money doing the same thing with less accuracy. MAKES SENSE, uh????

  3. I’am 100% service connected. I’am not allowed to be seen by the Gainesville VAHC. UNLESS I call some number.Per the director of the hospital and a secret tribunal. Then wait for someone to call me back in 48 to 72 hours to make an appointment, and you know how long that takes. I cannot go to a private doctor either. Choice none. If you think this a joke I can send you the paper work I received from the V.A. So when I need treatment for my service connected medical [and I have put it off] until it gets bad enough to be taken in an emergency, the I will use a public hospital as an indigent. not letting on that I’am a service connected Veteran. Thank for listing

      1. What happen to get you reported to the disruptive committee.the reason I ask I also was reported disruptive and the committee punished me and never required the employee to provide proof.

        The director admits there is no proof.yet they went ahead and punished me.

        From what I’ve seen they can and do report veterans all the time.if they ask to many questions or have a bad day and their voice gets a little upset.

        This committee is illegal judiciary system with the VA employees as the accuser. Prosecutor.judge and jury.

        They say they can punish veterans that are disruptive.hell they can’t even define what disruptive behavior is and they make up stuff as they go.

        They are breaking the law by denighing veterans to a fair trial and omitted every constitutional and civil right of the veteran.

        IF someone knew what they were doing and fought this legally and took it to the supreme court.

        I believe the supreme court would find in the veterans favior and that would force the VA to abandon that illegal committee and then charges placed upon those committee members for false imprisonment of the veteran.

        Write letter or send an email to Bob McDonald’s office and let him know how they are using this committee to punish you.

        He will not do anything about it.but if enough veterans complain about this committee and he does nothing.there will be a very big paper trail evidence that he won’t be able to wiggle off the hook .

  4. Where the hell did all those billions go that was given to the VA for the choice program? They shouldn’t need any more money when they were given billions….find out where it went and get it back and use if for your shortfall. I think that there needs to be a complete audit for where the money went. They can’t spend billions and then come back and ask for more. There were $10-$15 billion dollars allocated wasn’t there???

  5. All the things the VA has done just imagine what we don’t know that’s the scary part it’s not if they’re hiding something they are hiding something the whole Federal government is corrupt don’t have to wonder where the money’s going it’s going in their pockets my mind is so fucked up from this bull shit I mean the people we’re wanting to fix the system are stuffing their pockets to what else are we to think it’s one big party and were not invited.

  6. They say you missed an appointment so they can say one of the reasons for the backlog is veterans are not keeping their appointments.

    It has nothings to do with the just their ploy as an excuse to keep getting more money for themselves.

    Remember they lye a lot

  7. VA does not want veterans choice for 2 reasons.

    When was the last time did we ever have a choice at the VA? For that matter when did we ever have a 1st choice?

    Job Security….If we get a taste of real doctors and real medical care we would never go back to the va!

  8. I am at a loss for words on this BS. Well almost.

    I have a va clinic 29 miles from me staffed with quacks, no English speaking quacks. I have to drive 200 miles round trip to get hearing aides adjusted and for eye glasses because of this. They do not do eye glasses or hearing aides at the closer clinic.

    I had a C&P exam this year for hearing, 3 weeks latter I got a letter with an appointment for Ear nose and throat dr via veterans choice. IT WAS FOR ANOTHER HEARING TEST!! I JUST HAD AT A HEARING TEST AT VA FACILITY 3 WEEKS EARLIER!!!! And guess what the results were? They were the same, I can’t hear shit.

    I have tried everything I can think of to get rid of VA dr’s, especially the non English speaking, 3rd world psychiatrists. I am terrified of them. They damn near killed me this year through their quackery.

    They constantly put lies in my medical records even though I have not been to a va clinic since June of this year. I think I am on a list because I complained about the so called medical “treatment” I received this year.

    I can not and will not subject myself to more of this non sense. But without any other health care insurance I do not know what to do. My anxiety level is at an all time high and it is due mainly from I have no health care coverage outside of the va and I will not ever go back.

    I am 70% disabled PTSD, depression. TDIU. I guess I will have to spend my disability to pay for real doctors.

    Any ideas?


    1. I am a disabled and retired US Marine living in the Philippines and I have to fly 800 air miles round trip,stay in a hotel over night because no flight back home the same day and they tell me soon they will not reimburse for appointments so the expenses will come out of my pocket,also I am rated 100% by VA,but I can not get the same care and treatment as my fellow Veterans in the US,I am a Vietnam Veteran with 4 Major service connected conditions from Agent Orange,but you might say that is my problem for moving to the Philippines,but before I moved here I asked VA if I was covered here for anything and as VA does so eloquently,they lied to me,imagine that!

      I have tried to contact my Congressman in Missouri,Blaine Luetkemeyer but he has never answered not even a pre-written form letter,I also tried several other Congressmen but they don’t care either including Ted Cruise,I wrote him and got a form letter requesting a donation!!!

      This VA Clinic has been in Manila since WW2 and is a good clinic but Congress has tied their hands as usual,I also received the,”Choice Card “But the Choice card is not good here and may never be and the reason it is not good here is in the past VA has been slow in paying DR’s and Hospitals so now they won’t accept won’t even accept a Letter of Authorization for payment here and the clinic manager told me this.

      As I said,I was in the same Vietnam War as many of you were and served my country so shouldn’t treatment here be the same for all of us that live here,as of now about 40,000 US Veteran Households,VA Says,”NO”,Remember I asked before I came here.

      I have reached out to this organization and many others and so far they have been no help,oh ya the Choice card came with a letter saying,”From a Grateful Nation!!

      If someone out there can help I would be greatfull.

      1. @Bob

        I do not have answers for you. I know that you may try a “neighboring Nation’s” Ambassador, whom happens to be none other than the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, which is Kennedy, She is not afraid to get political. On that note, have you an Embassy in Philippines and Representation via that means since you are living “abroad” so-to-speak, but also are a U.S. Disabled Veteran living there.
        Is your VA on one of our pulled-out from Bases? How does that work? Does the VA harass you, trying to get you to move to mainland or Hawaii?

        Sorry cannot help but maybe someone on another great site, “hadit dot com”…a lot of resources and helpful people over there as well as a vast archive to search through. Hope that at least helps with suggestions.

      2. I know I seen somewhere that the VA would treat veterans who are in secluded areas and are to pay for the veterans to and from their home by plane or boat. IF you have a computer type in veterans travel pay for veterans in remote areas.

        Think you just might find something that would get you seen with no cost to you.

  9. Sloan Gibson is an a$$hole. Congress, quit throwing money away on this failed agency. Enough is enough.

  10. Dear Mr. Krause:

    Kudos to Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, if he is serious I would say he is the true champion for veteran, the warrior we veterans with clout, need to fight for us.

    Yours for God and Country
    Frank P Calderon.

    1. Agree with you that Dep Secy Gibson is zeroing in on the true costs of giving the veterans all the care they have earned and deserved. Why has it taken so long?

      1. It appears we have a Sloan Gibson fan club going Ben maybe I’ve been wrong thinking so lowly of the asshole according to these 2 fans we should be kissing his chicken.

  11. Am I missing something? WTF happened to the $15 billion Congress gave the VA for this joke of a program? Now they need more?
    It really takes some serious lunacy by both Gibson and Congress for Gibson to give Congress the finger on accountability, then turn around and demand more money to fix a disaster that never should have been.
    That $15 billion and any other money should have been put into CHAMPVA which the VA and providers were already using and are familiar with.
    Can they get private doctors to continue using this disaster? Not without spending millions more on some program to convince them the VA will not screw them…and veterans.
    I don’t have a Choice card, and likely would not use it if I did. Why the hell would I take a chance on the VA screwing up and not paying as they have done repeatedly to veterans? Then the veterans are billed or have their credit ruined?

    1. 91Veteran,
      Don’t you remember? McDonald and Gibson gutted it late last year of millions. Then this year there was a suspicion over where the money was going. Plus $500 million was to be used for the men and women who contracted HepC.
      Then they were to come in front of the committee every 14 days and explain, in detail, where the money was going.
      Now, that being said, has VA responded as has been mandated by law to POTUS, Congress and the Senate? The answer’s simple – NO!

  12. The choice program should not have any restrictions.veterans should be allowed to be treated outside the VA.if they don’t like the care their getting from the VA period.

    Who wants to go to a clinic.where an employee can state the veteran has been disruptive and the veteran never been disruptive and that employee able to control that veterans life.

    With future threats of having the veteran arrested.federal charges and banishment from all VA care.

    And every time the veteran go for an appointment.that employee sits in the outpatient area during that make sure the veteran sees her.

    When the employee has an office located in another portion of the clinic.

    I hate going there and am trying to stay’s not if she is going to report me to the disruptive committee again.but when.

    Its just a matter of time.she was able to do it once.without having to provide the disruptive committee with any proof and they just let her do it.

    Veterans should not have to fear retalation every time they go see a doctor.

  13. VA is no more then a HOOKER working the streets of a big city, or in this case the HALLS OF CONGRESS………..


  14. The VA will be back for the remainder $579 Million by Summer 2016…it’s the ‘Sequel’, with many more to come.

    How did they come-up with such an odd ball # of $421 Million?

  15. Here’s something I forgot to mention.
    Remember Dr. Skye McDougall? She’s the one who lied to the committee over the “wait times” in Los Angeles, Calif.
    Watch the Jon Stewart video to refresh y’all’s memory.
    Well, it seems McDonald was going to send that liar to VISN 18, (Phoenix, Az) to head up VA. But that didn’t go over too well with Sen. John McCain. He sent a letter to McDonald expressing his dissatisfaction. So, McDonald changed his mind and sent Dr. Skye McDougal to VISN 16. Which, by the way, is Rep. Martha Roby’s district.
    Some of you may remember Ms Roby. She’s the Rep who has been very outspoken on VA. She’s in the district, which, according to her, has the two worst VA hospitals in the nation.
    When I learned of this. I sent the “news article” off to –
    Jsharp@AL . com
    He’s a news reporter out of Alabama.
    I believe the news article was from a website I get in an email. It might have been from “military dot com”. But I’m not sure. Anyway, I sent the article off to Ben as soon as I read it. I hope he read it!?

    Lastly, I’ve mentioned on here, I believe Ben, Ron Nesler, the attorneys from other such websites (VAWatchdog) etc and Mr. Trump needs to have a “sit down”!
    I feel given Mr. Trump’s expertise of, “The Art of the Deal”, would be conducive to “our cause”!

    Because, we see that our government really doesn’t know how to do a “deal”! The “Iran Deal” is a perfect example of this!
    Mr. Kerry, why didn’t you get our American Citizens returned to their families and loved ones first?

    1. Kerry and Obama wanted to ensure the very worse terrorist in GTMO were exchanged for TRAITOR Berghdah (however you spell that asshole’s name). Yet another example of WTF over?!

  16. Yep, VA is at the $$$ hole again. Seems to be a recurring theme. Ben put it on here last week, where Gibson testified about changing the definition of “accountability”! Where one of the committee members actually said, if I remember correctly; Whenever VA comes before this committee, and asks for more money, it’s like “holding a gun” to our head.
    Well, if that be the case, I would suggest to the committee, stop giving into the VA!

    This is an insane “business deal”! Whenever VA feels like they need more taxdollars, they (McDonald) always sends Gibson. Why? Can’t McDonald do his own dirty work? Is he afraid he’ll be questioned over the egregious acts VA employees are getting away with?
    I have absolutely no faith in our government anymore. namnibor, and many more, have repetitively said it MANY TIMES NOW. “Follow the money!”
    For some reason, I believe many in the upper management of VA are pocketing the taxpayers money! I wish an audit, by an outside source, would commence immediately. If VA isn’t hiding something that will dispell all problems.
    If VA is hiding something, oh well, let the hammer fall!

    In my opinion, VA lied their collective a$$e$ off when they “claimed veterans loved VA over private care!”
    I also remember something about a Congressman or Senator saying something about veterans, who live long distances (more than 30 miles), should be allowed to use private healthcare for minor things. I remember issues like “eye care”, minor surgical care and things like that was mentioned. It was said it would save VA millions of taxpayers money. That has never come to fruition. Why?

    There’s so much bullshit coming from McDonald all the way down the line, it’s hard to believe anything VA says!

    1. I just heard on National News that our Peace Corps. Workers are having problems with our government and their medical care, and even deaths from really shitty implementation, sounding just like the VA, and they said of all those Peace Corps Workers, around 37% come back with really nasty ass third world diseases and bites, etc. Our Gov’t. has failed in so many facets and I wish I did not even have to think this way but the corruption has infected our USA and our so-called Leaders like some sort of Super-Bug-Syphilis-Bubonic Plague-Ebola…
      …VA NEEDS AN ENEMA as do many other parts of our Government.

      I posted the above to show that we Veterans are not the only ones fighting for proper care and one without all the corruption. WHY is Rep. Miller or any breathing sack of flesh on the Vet Committees in D.C. ASKING for some NUMBERS. Proof. A real PLAN??
      This why I am so perplexed because it’s like the whole system has had a lobotomy and what was extracted was whatever was once there called “accountability”.

  17. Amazing!
    So, where did all the OTHER Hundred$ of Million$ go with the Choice Program? I must also ask and state: Didn’t the VA just “get paid”…(budget)?

    This makes no sense. Gibson is regurgitating the same words and as Ben said, “The PLAN all along”…this guy is a snake.

    I guess VA Sex. McDonald’s visit to Alaska immediately after his Hawaii “visit to end homeless vets), did absolutely NOTHING for State of Alaska and I had no idea until now that Alaska has no Full Service VA Hospital.
    Do they now have to go to the various military base medical clinics or down to Washington and Oregon?
    Why would they forget Alaska where the VA could have yet another black hole money pit like Aurora, and the VA could easily use the harsher environment as an excuse to go 600$ over budget? Or…is this call for more cash just CODE for more $ sacrificed to the Colorado black hole? Underground installation going on there? I wonder.

    Time for UBS Corp. to do a massive AUDIT of the VA. This is insane.

      1. @namnibor.
        You had it right the first time;
        “Sex. McDonald”! Because he’s the biggest “Jerkoff” VA has right now. And Gibson is just nothing more than the “Proverbial Circle Jerkoff”!

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