Why a $10 billion VA Program to help with Vet Care is failing

My wife stumbled upon this article titled “Few vets getting care through $10 billion VA program” written by David Caruso for the Associated Press and shared it with me.  After reading it, I became abundantly aware of how misguided some programs can become especially when they appear to be administered by people who have no earthly idea to whom they are attempting to service.  They seem to lack the understanding of the particular kind of citizen to who they are contacting and quickly lose focus behind the initial reasoning for the program in the first place.

As reported “a new program that was supposed to get patients off waiting lists at Veterans Affairs medical centers by letting them switch to private-sector doctors is proving to be an even bigger disappointment than initially thought.  The Veteran's Choice program launched on Nov. 5 with $10 billion in funding and the expectation that it would instantly relieve backlogs at VA hospitals and clinics. But after a hurried rollout that has led to confusion as to exactly who is eligible and what they need to do to coordinate treatment, officials now say only 37,648 medical appointments have been made through April 11.  That figure represents only a tiny fraction of eligible patients. The Choice plan is supposed to be open to patients who live more than 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic or who have been told they would have to wait more than 30 days for VA care. As of April 1, there were nearly 432,000 appointments pending in the VA's scheduling system involving a wait that long.  The VA has already announced plans to loosen one important eligibility rule and an analysis is underway to pinpoint why utilization has been low.  According to the two managed care companies hired by the VA to administer the system, those contractors, TriWest Healthcare Alliance and Health Net Federal Services, said many of those calls were from vets who didn't need care right away and simply wanted information. But advocates for veterans have also raised concerns that some veterans interested in the program were deterred by bureaucratic hassles, confusion about procedures or a lack of available, participating doctors.  "There are a bunch of sharp edges," acknowledged TriWest's president, Dave McIntyre. He attributed most of them to an attempt to build the program from scratch in just 90 days — a deadline set by Congress when it created the program last summer”.

Basically, the reason it is not working as it should is that it is someone else’s fault and we are doing the best job that we can do.  The real reason it is not working as it may have been thought to is you are dealing with people who are not used to asking for help so that is a major obstacle that must be overcame.  Next you are telling them who can and cannot get the help that they know they need instead of letting them choose for themselves.  If I go to any place to get the help I earned, then all any doctor or hospital has to do is invoice VA for that care, it’s that simple.  The main reason most veterans like to go to the VA clinics is because you are bound to see another person you may have served with and just the feeling of walking into that facility bonds you to the other veteran you see sitting there waiting.  You enter into a conversation and before you know it your name is being called.  For those who miss out on this and live too far away from a VA clinic, knowing that they can go anywhere, flash their VA identification and get excellent service is all they need to know and should be all they need to do.  Remember whom you are dealing with, men and women who were willing to give their very life for this country and the least they ask is not to have to pass some congressional litmus test.


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