Legion: Choice is not the answer

The American Legion presented a statement for the record for the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs hearing examining the future of the Department of Veterans Affairs Choice Program. The hearing, “Shaping The Future: Consolidating and Improving VA Community Care,” took place March 7 before a packed house and featured testimony from VA Secretary David Shulkin and Sen. John McCain.

In its statement, the Legion said that because of its unsustainable cost, the Choice Program – which was designed to allow those enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs health-care system to get care from non-VA doctors – isn’t a permanent solution.

"A dramatic increase in cost is guaranteed to result in an increased financial burden to veterans using VA care which will include higher co-pays, premiums, deductions, and other out-of-pocket expenses currently suffered by non-VA healthcare programs," the statement read.

The Legion has called for VA to “develop a well-defined and consistent non-VA care coordination program, policy and procedure that includes a patient centered care strategy which takes veterans’ unique medical injuries and illnesses as well as their travel and distance into account.”

But Choice was quickly rolled out, the Legion stated, and as a result, "once this program was implemented, most have not found it to be a solution, indeed, they have found it to create as many problems as it solves. What we have found, directly interacting with veterans, is that many of the problems veterans encountered with scheduling appointments in VA are mirrored in the civilian community outside VA."

For the complete statement, click here. To watch the hearing in its entirety, click here.