Arlington, VA – Today the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) will hold a hearing examining the Veterans Choice Program and the future of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care in the community program.
In April, the Senate passed and President Trump signed a reauthorization and extension of the Veterans Choice Act, which was passed originally in 2014 as a quick fix to the wait list scandal at the VA in Phoenix.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Veterans chose to serve their country and they should have a choice of where they receive their health care. As currently implemented, the Veterans Choice Program does not offer true health choice to veterans who use the VA. The recent reauthorization of the Veterans Choice Program should be viewed as a step to buy Congress time to pursue larger VA health care reforms, not a permanent fix. We look forward to working closely with Congress to empower veterans with the health care freedom they truly need.”
The Veterans Choice Program has been poorly implemented and has not offered the veterans who qualify for it the real choice that the creators of the program envisioned. The “40-mile, 30-day” rule means that, in theory, veterans can only seek care outside the VA if they can’t be seen within a month of when they request an appointment or if they can’t be seen within a 40-mile radius. Even then, many veterans are still forced to jump through many bureaucratic hoops to access the program.
In the Fixing Veterans Health Care Task Force, CVA proposes the creation of a government-chartered non-profit and veterans insurance program to oversee the distribution of health care to veterans. In this new model, veterans would be fully empowered to decide where and when to seek care outside of the VA.
President Trump and VA Secretary Shulkin have both expressed the need to give veterans more choice over their health care. President Trump included choice as part of his 10-point plan to fix the VA while he was on the campaign trail last year. Secretary Shulkin recently included enacting “Choice 2.0” as one of his top ten priorities for fixing the VA.