Donald Trump Signs Bill to Extend Veterans Choice Program

| April 19, 2017

President Trump signed a bill extending the Veterans Choice Program today, allowing vets to seek health care outside the VA system. The bill applies to vets who live 40 miles or more from a VA facility, or can’t get an appointment within a 30-day window.

‘Some people have to travel five hours, eight hours, and they’ll have to do it on a weekly basis, and even worse than that,” Trump said. “It’s not going to happen anymore.”’

Trump was joined by Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, who praised the bill.

“This is a good day for veterans,” he said. “This is a great day to celebrate not only what veterans have contributed to the country, but how we’re making things better for them.”

The extension of the bill passed by Congress authorized the sharing of medical records to hospitals outside the VA and modifies the procedures for reimbursement for private hospitals.’

More here.

Category: Politics

Comments (29)

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  1. Mike says:

    I recently tried to use the Veteran’s Choice program, as my ENT appointment couldn’t be scheduled within 30 days (roughly 45 days). I had to wait 15 days before I called to try to schedule an earlier appointment, to allow time for my information to get to whatever contractor is making money on this boondoggle. After those 15 days, the first person I spoke to couldn’t find any ENT facilities in their registry (it was listed under the title “laryngology,” but apparently the person who schedules medical appointments didn’t know that’s what it’s called). After I asked a doctor friend if there was another term for ENT, I called back and was told they would schedule an appointment with a clinic three blocks from my house. A week later, Veteran’s Choice calls me back to say they scheduled my appointment – at a clinic further away than the VA hospital and a day later than my original appointment. The next week was spent on the phone between the VA and Veteran’s Choice, trying to ensure my original appointment hadn’t been cancelled and canceling the Veteran’s Choice one. I’m still worried I’m going to get a bill for a no-show at that private clinic.

    I’ve loved almost everything President Trump has done since taking office, but I will never believe that Veterab’s Choice is a worthy program.

    • Mike says:

      Veteran’s. Autocorrect is retarded.

    • MSG Eric says:

      I’m using it and I had a similar issue with getting an appointment to the same place that I was going before. My doc had to restart my treatment and it took them way too long to get my appointment set.

      I went to the place in person to ask for an appointment and then that same day got the letter in the mail for my appointment the next week.

      Once you have an approval to use the vet’s choice program, you can find a doc yourself that does whatever you need and if they’re in the vet’s choice system, you can make the appointments yourself. You just call them back with the info about it.

      There are going to be issues with it, but it is a good fix to getting appointments for veterans.

    • desert says:

      The veterans choice program is run by ..guess who, stinking insurance company! It takes many times longer to get in to choice than it does to make the trip…its an all day trip for me….I had my last appointment with a poditrist in December, he had an operation and is recuperating, I can’t get in before May, so I said gimme choice, that was a week and a half ago, still haven’t heard a word, called and they said VA had to send some report, AFTER that choice starts looking for a doctor…a big ass runaround that takes a month or more ….

  2. Ret_25X says:

    Veteran’s Choice has the same basic flaw all VA programs have…it’s run by the VA.

  3. Michael says:

    I’m glad they extended this program. Many vets have benefited from being seen in the community. It’s not perfect but it’s meeting a need that’s been largely ignored for a long time.

    • Mike says:

      I am truly happy for all those vets who have benefited from the program, but my experience was a purely negative one. The other people I know with experience with this program (admittedly, not many) are in the same boat.
      What I worry about is that efforts aren’t being made to correct the issues within the program, just promoting a positive headline.

    • desert says:

      It would be fine if they would quit screwing with it, stalling it, get half way proficient…I said HALF WAY, because they will NEVER BE FULLY PROFICIENT.

  4. HMC Ret says:

    When the program first began the Mrs. and I each received a Veterans Choice card. A few weeks later we each received a letter telling us we could not use the program … no money or something. Thankfully we have a very major clinic, yes a clinic, that offers almost everything needed. But I do need a procedure not available here. I was recently told it would take perhaps three months to get me scheduled. The good news is the specialist who performs that procedure will be assigned at the local VA clinic in July. Fortunately, it’s a chronic, non-emergent issue so I can wait. We recently lost a specialist, a dermatologist, with no prospect for replacement any time soon, or so I have been informed. Again, a chronic, non-emergent issue.
    The local news today had a piece about VA facilities beginning to refer patients to CVS, which has, I think it is called, a Minute Clinic. You call the VA nurse hotline and they tell you which CVS to go to if they feel you need to be seen fairly quickly, like within a day or so. It’s mostly for issues such as the flu and such. It is presently being offered at only two VA facilities nationwide, but is being extended to many, many more VA facilities. Sounds like a really good deal. The Minute Clinic I believe will be staffed by a Nurse Practitioner. Again, a good deal. The VA picks up most/all of the bill.

    • Mike says:

      Is this part of Veteran’s Choice, or a separate initiative?

    • MSG Eric says:

      CVS is a pharmacy, I didn’t know they had Nurses or practitioners there. Interesting.

      I have a full-blown hospital 10 miles away, but I’ve still used the vet’s choice program for one type of treatment which the hospital doesn’t have docs for. So it can be worthwhile.

      Strange they’d tell you “no money” though because that shouldn’t be an excuse they can give.

      • HMC Ret says:

        Mike: I’ve been unable to determine that. I called the TV station and they don’t know. I put in a message to my Congress rep and am waiting for a reply. IF he replies, I will post it in its entirety.

        MSG Eric: Not all CVSs have health care providers such as NP or PA. I know of none in my area, but in larger areas they do have a provider during certain hours. IF the VA begins to refer a sufficient number of patients to CVS, I’m think we will see more of their stores become a doc in the box. That would be a good thing for veterans.

        I plan to contact CVS Corporate office to try to determine the extent of this program. I will print their response if received. This can be a good thing for Veterans. Win-Win …

      • CB Senior says:

        Yes many have “Minute Clinics” in them and are staffed with Nurse Practitioners.
        Flu shot and other small care to take the burden off of emergency rooms for people without and PCP.

      • MSG Eric says:

        Good to know, thanks for the info. I don’t recall seeing one in the 3 near me, but definitely a positive for those of you who have need for it.

        I’m lucky to be near a solid VA hospital that does almost everything, I’ve only had a couple complaints and it was due to administrative types. I wish it was the same for all veterans, as it should be.

  5. FatCircles0311 says:

    They really need to just allow veterans to get care elsewhere regardless of distance. It’s good enough for everybody else it should be good enough for veterans. I hate the VA here.

  6. 26Limabeans says:

    “sharing of medical records to hospitals outside the VA”

    What could possibly go wrong.

  7. Azygos says:

    I have a contract with VA Choice and as noted above the problem is its run by the asses at the VA. (With apologies to actual incompetent asses who would be light years ahead of who runs it here)

    My average patients age is 88. All are disabled, blind, diabetic, had strokes, limbs removed from diabetes or injury, don’t drive, had heart attacks, or some combination of the above. I saw one the other day in his home. When they went to get his scripts filled they were told he would have to see his regular VA doctor to get his prescription Ok’d that I wrote him.

    I’m told they won’t fill the prescription because they are trying to save money. They filled my prescriptions until recently even before I had the VA Choice contract. Its certainly more efficient to have to hire special transport for up to $160 dollars each way to have a VA doctor glance at a script I wrote (That the patient is already taking) to get it ok’d. And they also have to hire a caregiver to go with him to make sure he is safe.

    I could write a book about the abuse, neglect, and shoddy piss poor care my VA patients receive from the VA here in Phoenix.

  8. MSGT Richard Deiters USMC(Retired) says:

    Here in the KC Metro area there is a VA hospital that also has Outpatient Clinics around town. Out here in Belton the VA Clinic jus moved from a rented building to a new building that appears to be built just for the Clinic’s use. Personally I have tried to sign up for VA Health care but was told I am in Category 8(to much money and no listed service connected issues. That being said since I am a Retired Marine over the magic age for Mandatory Medicare parts “A” and “B” to able to continue using ‘TRICARE’ I haven’t had to spend much more than the Medicare Premiums for health care for the wife or myself. CVS was my pharmacy of choice when I needed a Script for a drug with a limited time to be taken. Maintenance drugs have to be a 90 day script and routed to Express Scripts to be serviced by mail-order other wise Tricare won’t cover the maint. drugs after the third 90 day script.
    Meanwhile CVS is no longer a TRICARE PREFERRED pharmacy, they were dropped in favor of Walgreens about the same time CVS became the operator of the pharmacy section of the Target stores.

    • HMC Ret says:

      My brother, he with a massive TIS of less than a year and a general discharge, is cat 8 but is enrolled and is seen.

      Mrs. HMC is also cat 8 and is enrolled.

      I wondered why CVS was replaced by Walgreens? I wonder if the government rotates them just to be fair? We’re talking tremendous amount of money.

  9. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    If any of this is supposed to reassure me that the government running health care for all is a good thing, I must say I’m not exactly seeing that.

    As someone who has good private insurance that allows me to see pretty much whomever I wish for whatever I need in a very reasonable time frame I’m not at all convinced a government run program would be to my benefit.

    • MrBill says:

      I’m in the same boat. I’m rated at 50% so I’m eligible to get all of my health care from the VA. But I also have good health insurance and a family doctor who I like, so why would I? I get better service as it is, and I’m not taking appointments away from needy veterans who may have no other choice.