Veterans Choice Program success might be affecting veterans waiting for care

Ken Amaro takes a look at the VA Choice Program's proposed changes.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Jim Yale, 70, is a Vietnam Veteran who has discovered walking is no longer a simple task.
He said every step is filled with pain.

"My feet always hurt, always," Yale said. “It feels like there's a clamp around them."

The Navy Veteran was seeing a Brunswick, Georgia podiatrist approved through the Veterans Choice Program (VCP).

"[VCP] was working so well Veterans," he said. "More veterans are asking for it. You can stay at home and receive treatment."

Now, it seems the program's success is creating some backlash for Yale and other veterans.

"[VCP] was working too well, the funds are leaving the VA and they're afraid to close the clinics and hospitals," he said.

The VA spokesperson stated there are two accounts to pay for VA community care: One for VCP and the other for traditional VA community care. As a result, the VA is adjusting its processes to accommodate shifts in demand from these accounts.

"[VCP] kept me from having to drive to Dublin, Georgia by having things performed locally," he said.

Yale said recently it turned on him. He contacted his patient advocate at the VA about next week’s surgery and was told it is on hold.
  
"Everything was put on hold because of Congress," Yale said. "No explanation, just it is on hold."

What it meant for him is that instead of his surgery taking place next week at a Brunswick facility, it will be done late August at a VA facility in Dublin.

"If you pardon the expression I was pretty pissed off," Yale said. "That's not what we expect as patients of the VA."

He said he is very sure the issue is affecting the entire veteran community. Because of our inquiry, VCP is reaching out to Yale to see if they can help him get his surgery sooner.

This is a statement from the Veteran HealthCare Administration:

A top priority for VA is making sure that Veterans have access to high quality care when and where they need it. One way VA accomplishes this priority is by using VA’s community care network. The Veterans Choice Program (VCP), one pathway among several for accessing the community care network, is being used at an increased rate. As a result, VA is providing its medical facilities with the flexibility needed to optimize resources locally for VA community care. Veterans that need community care will continue to be able to receive it.

To read more about VCP, click here.

 

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