Thursday, March 24, 2016

On 22 March the program team went to Capitol hill for a hearing on the choice act. In a brief summary the Choice Act will administer the “Veterans Choice Fund” to implement the Veterans Choice Program (“the Program”).  The Program will operate for 3 years or until the Fund is exhausted.  The Program will provide Veterans who were enrolled as of August 1, 2014 or eligible to enroll as a recently discharged combat Veteran with a Veterans Choice Card, and allow those Veterans who are unable to schedule an appointment within 30 days of their preferred date or the clinically appropriate date, or on the basis of their place of residence to elect to receive care from eligible non-VA health care entities or providers.  This is separate from VA’s existing program providing Veterans care outside of the VA system.  Eligible non-VA entities or providers must enter into agreements with VA to furnish care, must maintain the same or similar credentials and licenses as VA providers, and must submit to VA a copy of any medical records related to care and services provided under the Program for inclusion in the Veteran’s VA electronic medical record.  Overall we applaud the VA for attempting to bring much needed care to veterans but the Choice Act was initially poorly executed.  For instance, there where many issues with the VA paying outside doctors for services provided, the cost then fell on veterans which in turn negatively affected those veterans credit. On a positive note the VA is implementing an internally tiered system that ranks providers so that veterans are sent to the best possible provider for care. The VA has a long way to go but we are happy to see initiatives in the right direction.   

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