Arlington, VA – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has created a new backlog of more than 150,000 veterans who are currently waiting for appointments. These are veterans who have been approved to see private specialist doctors under the Choice Card program – but VA contractors are not scheduling the corresponding appointments, according to official data.
Even worse, the data specifies that of those 150,000 veterans approved, yet backlogged, to see private providers, almost 50,000 have been waiting for more than three months for their Choice Card appointment to be scheduled. More than 65,000 veterans have been waiting more than two months and approximately 90,462 of the veterans in question have been stuck in limbo longer than 30 days. Bottom line: veterans are waiting far too long for health care.
“Until a private appointment is scheduled, vets remain on both waiting lists — for a VA doctor and a non-VA one — to see whichever comes through first.” To put it simply, under the Choice program, there are more veterans who are waiting to see a private doctor than to see a VA specialist.
Concerned Veterans for America Vice President of Policy and Communications Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“The Choice Card program was good in theory, but was not implemented properly due to VA incompetence. The idea that veterans using the choice program are forced to wait for the VA bureaucrats to schedule their appointments proves that the Choice Card program is failing. We urge Congress to pass legislation that aims to put the veteran at the center of their own choice rather than the VA bureaucrat.”
The aim of the Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act is to provide more options for veterans who find that, for whatever reason, the VA system does not meet their needs, and to give the veteran health care system more flexibility to account for the demographic shifts in the veteran population. The VA is, in many ways, the product of another time—modernization of the VA health care system is what our veterans need and deserve.
CVA also supports The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016 which would restore accountability at the VA by expediting the removal of problem employees, increasing the power of the VA Secretary to remove problem employees, and preventing bonuses for senior executives for the next five years. The bill also addresses the broken claims process – giving veterans more choices when it comes to appealing VA Regional Office’s initial decisions.