How many more must die? Seriously. I am proud to be a Veteran, although I have never seen any of the horrors faced by our soldiers in combat. More than ever I feel their pain and hope the outrageous treatment of my fellow Veterans appalls you as much as it sickens me. I have first hand experience with the Veterans Choice program and have taken action to change the process in every way I can, including setting up a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/VeteransChoiceHealthcare/, and website, http://www.veteranschoicehealthcare.com/, that over time, caught the eye of people in places of influence that are doing what they can do to help. This includes Leora Romney, an investigative reporter who is part of a team that released https://www.revealnews.org/…/no-choice-failing-americas-veterans/. I spent a lot of time pursuing answers and avenues from elected officials and so-called advocates for Veterans. I was especially dejected when I finally cornered my elusive local Veterans Affairs & Business Specialist, after numerous phone calls and emails. I tracked him down at a feel good Veterans event covered by the press which I assume ensured his standing in the community. He told me “nobody cares and nobody listens.” He went on to explain that “the good ol boys network in Washington consists of the heads of Veteran affair organizations like the DAV, Legion and VFW, trading titles when their term runs up, leaving the same guys in charge, only having to change their business cards, thereby maintaining their perks as part of the Washington elite.” I’m quoting you Donald (not Trump), and you too should be dissatisfied at leaving it at that. I also defend you, because you are a disabled veteran doing the best you can for Veterans, at any level. However, I did not give up, and this post is one more step in my humble attempt to help. Your vote can be your contribution, in the upcoming election.
In response to reports of Veterans dying while on waiting lists in Phoenix, a bill was introduced in Congress: “If you don’t think, in 2014, that was the time to start a program like Choice, I don’t know when you would find a time,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “That’s the problem. They were causing veterans to wait. And by the way, veterans did die, while they were on the waiting list.”
In turn the Legislators gave the VA $10 billion to set up a program that would give qualified veterans the option of seeing a private doctor. “Qualifying” included, among other things, being more than 40 miles from the nearest VA Medical Center, being hindered by a topographical element like having to cross water, and most importantly, being on a waiting list for more than 30 days at the V.A.
The program was signed into law and put into place in November of 2014. Although 57 requests were sent out to companies to handle the administering of the program, only four expressed an interest, and when told they had 90 days to set up a “system” , two backed out, leaving only two companies to handle the load. These companies set up call centers and hired thousands of employees to man the phones and requests. Most all of the employees had no medical background of any sort and unfortunately no “bedside manner”. The number of qualified Veterans who sought help through this system somehow surprised everyone, and the program started off overwhelmed, and has never recovered. While battling cancer I spent more time on the phone with “choice” than getting actual care, and this is the claim of the hundreds of people speaking out on the Facebook page, largely in part because they had no other place to turn. I encouraged people to call their Congressman, Senator, and gave the numbers of the leaders of the program itself. By all reports these calls fell on deaf ears, and the head of the program quit and left an answering machine message to call an 800 number that all Vets already knew… The number for Veterans Choice Healthcare. Calling that number starts a cycle of confusion and being on hold that has caused many Veterans to give up completely, and unfortunately some posted that are “contemplating suicide”, because of pain and things like PTSD. Check out the posts on the page to prove this is true. Remember 22 Veterans a day are committing suicide because they can’t get care. That’s almost one an hour!
I believe a Veteran, after qualifying for benefits (not all Vets get medical coverage for life) should get an insurance card from the United States. That card should be accepted by all doctors and hospitals and timely payment should be guaranteed by the Government. Like any other “insurance” there should be a co-pay to cover the administrative costs and that co-pay should reflect gratitude for serving and defending our country. In simpler terms, that co-pay should be as low as possible and lower than any other healthcare provider and the medical cost should be completely covered at no other charge to a Veteran. In even simpler terms, free insurance to qualifying Vets, with very little co-pay. These measures should replace the cost of the VA as we know it. No more VA “leaders”, no more VA hospital, no more VA Doctors and therefore no more outrageous bureaucratic Government program that, like the IRS, should be scrapped, and should be a fading memory. The buildings that house the VA, especially the hospitals, can be sold off, saving even more wasted money. Private Doctors can form co-ops in these already equipped hospitals and save money themselves by renting space in a place where resources can be shared. Some of the buildings have way more value than the system itself. Some of them should have been demolished years ago, (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/09/29/new-low-dead-veterans-left-in-va-hospital-morgue-for-weeks-without-burial.html) but the land has value.
According to The General Accounting Office, the VA’s claims process is so backed up that the VA could easily spend more money this year on interest for late payments than Medicare does, even though Medicare processes hundreds of billions of dollars more in claims.
In fairness to the employees of the companies trying to run Veterans Choice, I give you an excerpt from my Facebook forum:
“I will leave my comments at that as I do not want to jeopardize my job or families financial stability. But I will leave you with this, when you say no one truly cares you haven’t gotten the right representatives yet. I work with several people that do not find this job to simply be a paycheck. At the end of the day what matters are our veterans and taking care of them to the best of our ability. And when you get off the phone with one of those reps and we can’t help you please keep in mind some of use do care we are frustrated and at times we are crying.”
The 10 billion dollars has run out and Congress just voted an emergency appropriation to fund the program through the next year, until they can come up with a new solution, estimated to cost 35 billion dollars, if they decide to go forward with the current system. My simple solution would save money for America and American taxpayers, and Veterans would get the care they deserve.
Wrong Government to approach with a simple solution, right country to defend. God Bless America. Your vote can help make it great again.