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New IG Report Underscores Systemic Problems with Current “Choice” Program

By Concerned Veterans for America

Arlington, VA — This week the Inspector General sent a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, describing problems with the timeliness and accuracy of payments processed via the Choice Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The report outlines the status of two audits — on the claims payment processes and automated payments — as well as a third anticipated audit.

Duplicate payments, reimbursement errors, and transactions made outside of formal processes were among the problems cited in the report.

Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statements: 

“The Choice Program leaves the slow and bureaucratic VA as the middleman between veterans and their health care. Veterans face many hurdles in choosing their own doctor through the Choice Program and even when they are able to successfully obtain outside appointments, there are often issues with payment processing and scheduling.

“The Choice Program was never intended to be a permanent solution to getting veterans the care they need. Ultimately, Congress must pass broad, permanent choice reform that directly empowers veterans with the ability to use their benefits at their own discretion inside or outside the VA. Veterans will not be able to access the quality and timely care they earned until they are at the center of their own health care decisions.”

The Choice Program, which was enacted under the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act, was implemented in response to the wait list scandal of 2014. It was passed as a stop-gap measure and was never intended to be a permanent solution.

CVA supports the creation of a government-chartered non-profit within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) which would oversee the distribution of veterans’ health care benefits. The group is currently urging its activists to contact their Senators in support of VA choice reform.