Apr 28, 2016
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Based on 30+ years of healthcare finance experience, which includes as a CPA/auditor, hospital controller and administrator for academic provider departments, I believe that the VA system can never be fixed to the point where veterans have the timely access to care that they so richly deserve. I also believe that the private sector, under a plan similar to Medicare, and provide healthcare cheaper than the current VA bricks and mortar system.
I have had (2) Veterans Choice events. Paid nothing at all for treatment 1st was hernia surgery @ local hospital (important because I'm 72 years old and live alone and my previous boss picked me up and took me home)surgeon of my choice. Second was Physical Therapy @ a place of my choice here in town 1 Mile away.I now need Cataract Surgery and though calling twice I haven't heard anything since January, I will call Vet's Choice next week it's getting harder to drive at night! I would be willing to pay a co-pay. I put all I can on medicare but the co-pay on Cataracts is about $800.00.
As someone who has used the VA Choice program and works/volunteers for the VA, I'll say this... the VA is a broken system that is far too large to easily fix. That said, relying too heavily on VA Choice would dilute the continuity of healthcare that makes the VA a great choice for healthcare. Trying to coordinate with private practice is difficult enough as is (I spent time working at a small community based outpatient clinic - it's not an easy process) and adding more and more providers for expanding modalities will increase administrative workload and dilute quality of care.
TL;DR - It's a great program that should be expanded, but not to replace existing VA services.
The VA Choice Program is a joke. They can expand it to the moon, but the Veteran won't get approved. I tried.
I believe the whole VA system needs to be looked at by open minded people that are not Political Hacks. They need to have a majority of veterans on this committee and provide the benefits the Veterans so richly deserve.
No, the Veterans choice program is very nearly broken as badly as our current VA system . . . I'm now using my 4th Veterans choice for treatment . . . none have gone without problems and delays . . .
The Va was originally conceived to assist veterans with service connected disabilities and to provide training and other assistance to help veterans readjust to civilian life. Now it has been turned into a welfare program and as such is grossly overloaded. Lifetime healthcare was promised only after a veteran served 20 years active duty. Now anyone who served two to four years stateside believe that they deserve free healthcare for life. If this makes any free loaders unhappy, sorry 'bout that.
I respect all veterans, but what about someone who served 6 years in the Reserves and isn't given any benefits at all. Shouldn't we get at least prescription coverage or something. I realize I am not entitled to the benefits that a combat veteran is receiving but I think we are entitled to something.
Diluting the VA programs using the Veteran's Choice Program is just exacerbating the VA core problem. I've been in the care of the VA for the past six years and in that time I have seen the pendulum swing both ways. Early on, getting into the system was difficult and getting timely care was hard. Then something miraculous happened; more staff was hired and the backlog was reduced further by the use of fee based programs that were run by the VA. The number of waiting veterans began to shrink dramatically. Now the wait times are beginning to grow again and the VA staff are being worked to death. My primary care doctor has 1400 patients assigned to him, and he sees 15 a day.....the math doesn't add up. Qualified doctors are leaving because of being overworked, making the problem even worse.
Instead of branching out into the private sector (which in itself isn't a bad thing) and adding more bureaucracy, the entire VA system needs to be evaluated and redone by groups of actual patients of the VA who have actually gone through the processes and know the faults of the system from the inside out. As long as the VA bureaucrats keep on making policy, nothing is going to change.
If you want the VA to be privitized then expansion is the way to go. If you want the VA as is with some needed tweaks then expansion should only be utilized due to geographic location or lack of the appropriate speciality services.
The VA Health System does have many problems, but they can be and are being corrected. It will take a few more years to solve the major problems, but they are being addressed by V A Secretary Bob McDonald. Some of them are connecting all of the regional offices into one computer system, Veterans Choice is a viable temporary stopgap if worked properly by the vets themselves, The allowance of all vets to enroll into the V A System, The increase in the budget allowing more pay for Physicians and Nurses, but the one thing that needs fixing the most is for the House and Senate to dismantle the system they created which does not allow V A Executives and Personnel to be fired for non performance and cheating the system. Also, there should be several Veterans on all Committees associated with veterans issues so we have a say in how congress should represent us. This is where we need to push Congress so veterans can have appropriate representation an that The V A Secretary can Hire and Fire on Ability and Performance. There are many veterans needing jobs that are filled at the V A by non Veterans. I would like to see at least 95% of all V A Executives and employees be Veterans and offer incentives to Physicians and Nurses coming out of Military Service to join the V A Health System. We continue to lose our V A Physicians at an alarming rate, Why????
I say yes and I base this on my own experiences. I do have a VA Hospital 10 miles from my house. Actually a pretty decent one. The issue is it doesn't provide all the care I need. Neurology visits I need to travel to another facility 60 miles away. Orthopedics/Pain Management to another facility 125 miles away. Recently I've been paying out of pocket to treat service connected issues at a local pain management facility. Rationale, the seven visits over three months I'm in and out in less than an hour. Making the 250 mile round trip would have cost me seven days of paid time off of work that I do not have. I'm not a retiree and I try to be productive as much as possible. Having the Veterans Choice program extended to all would help those with chronic conditions that cannot be treated at their local facilities.
There are FAR too many questions left unresolved about the Veterans Choice Program as it currently exists. It is confusing as hell to veterans, VA facilities are lukewarm at best if THEY even understand or want to understand the program and far too many people have had any type of positive experiences in using it. I have had one or two cases of positive experience, but mostly it is negative or else veterans as well as VA care facilities are left scratching their heads
Veterans should have an option or choice!
Thanks for not advocating for us. Another sellout to the VA system that kills us. I go to the mayo system on my own private insurance. You guys are out to lunch. Never had better.