On Wednesday, the Veterans Administration said that it wants to combine seven different programs that let veterans receive care from the private doctors. The VA was saying that the operations are too cumbersome as Congress has added several beneficiaries to the rolls.
Sloan Gibson, the Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary, stated that veterans are confused by the various programs that have different eligibility rules, and this means that some of them are not making use of the programs that might help. He stated that the new plan might ensure that when a veteran wants care, the VA cannot offer the same in a timely fashion. They can also get the needed care from a private doctor.
The Senate Veterans Committee hearing stated that it is too complicated for the veterans, community providers, and VA staff. Gibson stated that the VA might need $421 million of one time infusion to start fine tuning the programs that exist. Also, the same might range between $400 million and $600 million by a year. The cost might spike as the VA’s New Choice Program becomes popular attracting new patients.
The plan might clarify the patient eligibility requirements, and streamline the co-pay and provider reimbursement and billing processes. It can also build a good network of the private doctors who work with the VA and share the medical records of the veterans with the department.
The senators question the cost with the Hawaii Democrat, Sen. Mazie Hirono stating that $421 million might be required to devise an implementation plan that may not be the best plan. Alaska Republican, Sen. Dan Sullivan stated that VA has to worry about more basic reforms in the state that lack a complete service VA hospital. A pilot program was promised to be set up for the Alaska veterans in order to see the private doctors, but the same has not made any development on the same.
Last year, Congress wrote that the Choice Program into the law as a way of aiding the veterans after the VA was claimed to shunt many of them onto the secret waiting lists. The veterans who signed up and lived far from the VA facility or those who waited too long to get an appointment can consult a private doctor without paying for it as the expense will be handled by the government.
The administration was initially resistant proposing shifting money from the program. However, it has been more accommodating in the recent weeks.