The new “Veteran’s Choice” program is a joke

You’ve heard about the problems with the VA – secret wait lists, low-quality care, veterans dead because they couldn’t get treatment . . .

Uncle Sam decided to make a very public attempt at trying to improve.  The idea was to send out “Veteran’s Choice” cards to veterans who either have to wait over 30 days for appointments, or live over 40 miles from the nearest treatment facility.  I live over 40 miles from the nearest clinic, and have had to wait up to 6 MONTHS for an appointment, so I thought it was a slam-dunk for me.

Well, over the year-end holiday, I got the card in the mail.  It isn’t valid unless you call a special 1-800 number to activate it.  I called yesterday, and was told that they can’t activate my card because they don’t have me on an approved list from the VA.  The 1-800 number doesn’t go to a VA office, it goes to some outside agency who is only running the phone bank for the VA – for profit, of course.  They suggested I contact the benefits office at my local clinic, and ask them to submit my information.

Can you hear the merry-go-round?  The calliope music?  Let me put it another way.  Remember what I wrote in a previous blog about how the VA so promptly responds to requests for information from the Social Security offices?  That is actually another government agency – this isn’t.

I think this whole new program is just window dressing so Obama can say he did something about the VA mess, but nothing is actually improving at all.


17 thoughts on “The new “Veteran’s Choice” program is a joke

  1. Well, isn’t this a piece of work?!?” This is going on The Soldier and I will post the link here when I have done it. Please advice if this is unacceptable, Vernon… 🙂 🙂

  2. Mordecai says:

    I was told to call the Choice number to arrange my knee surgery. Choice has been unable to do it. I have called five times. No one seems to know anything. Of course I can’t get the VA to return my calls. What a joke.

    • I’m sorry to hear that, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. I’ve been dealing with the VA for 33 years now, and seen nothing but a steady decline in quality of service while they nickel and dime us to death for the services they do provide. What state do you live in? I’ve heard rumors that Seattle has one of the better VA hospitals in the system. If you can get there, you might get better help.

  3. Richard Purdes says:

    I became ill with fl-like symptoms on 11/17/15. Went to VA emergency. VA started me on antibiotic after several tests. That evening I was sent to a non VA hospital with a fever of 104 F. I had severe pancreatitis and sepsis. The antibiotic took care of my immediate infection with 3 weeks of IV antibiotics.But I am not out of the woods. A test called a TEE determined a growth on a heart valve. The cardiologist is concerned if this mass, the size of a pencil eraser, breaks free by the antibiotic regimen it could cause a deadly stroke. So, the hospital tried to schedule a follow on TEE test. The VA blocked it, not yet having my records. I called the VA and they immediately allowed the test. Waiting for the test to be set up with nothing happening for a week, I called the VA again. They had sent me to the Choice program although I do not meet the criteria of entrance. I called Choice. After a half hour wait on the phone, the representative said the test would be scheduled in 5 working days, with no means of accelerating their calling to schedule the TEE. No concern was expressed by the Choice bureaucrat when I asked if scheduling could be accelerated. Nope. I can see no concern on the part of Choice to schedule the test. further, the individual I spoke with did not appear to have a medical background. I will call VA tomorrow, again.

  4. Wadena says:

    I could not agree more that this is a joke. Does anyone know if there is a manual on the Choice Program. Every time I call, and it is frequently, about an appt I get different answers from different people. My husband as a veteran has a lot of problems and my frustration level with these people is beyond stress.

    • Richard Purdes says:

      They make reference to one but then the VA hospital must not be aware of it because of the way things are submitted and then the response from choice. It took 2 weeks for me to get an appointment through choice for a potentially life threatening condition. No amount of calling by either the VA or myself could break free the process. Choice makes reference to a period of time allowed them to evaluate the request and then another period of time to make the appointment which is 5 working days in each case. Choice took exactly 10 working days to call the cardiologist.

  5. Pete says:

    I have been trying to deal with the choice program also. Nothing but a run around. It has been just about a complete year and still no satisfaction. 3 herniated disks in lower back. Had 3 shots that did not work. Then for some reason Choice cancelled the provider. So now I had to start the whole approvle system over again. All anyone can tell you is that it was sent in and will have to wait 4 to7 buissness days. I I am done waiting and will try and find a different source. This is a JOKE for most veterans.

  6. Wadena Sieler-Colbert says:

    Avera Orthopedic Specialists, Dr. Frisco and his PA Sharon. Finally got an appointment through CHOICE after several months of phone calls for my husband Barry’s hip and knee shots. They told us when we got there that it was only a consult and maybe they would give him his hip shots but they would have to get another authorization for his knee shots. He was due for both in November 2015. When we got in for the appointment the person doing his blood pressure and asking questions (after I had filled out 6 pages of questions) was very impatient. She asked my Barry who is 100% disabled to stop her if any of the things she said pertained to him. She then proceeded to name them off so fast that I had to ask her to repeat some of them. When he tried to explain his problem walking and his last episode walking 200 feet she cut him off and said she knew what 200 feet was and she had a lot of questions to get through. That was only the beginning. When Dr. Frisco’s PA came in she was extremely rude and looked at both of us like we were annoying her before we even said anything. Barry’s condition does not allow for anyone to be sarcastic or rude. She asked him where he got his shots and sitting down he pointed to both hips. She then told him he was being a Jerk and she wasn’t going to put up with it. She stated as she left that she was going to tell Dr. Frisco and he would probably discharge him. We sat there for at least 15 minutes and I went out to talk to her to try and explain his condition and she looked at me like I was way beneath her and told me that maybe if I apologized to the doctor he might see him. When Dr. Frisco did come in he asked Barry how he was. Barry responded he was fine until his PA called him a Jerk; at which point Dr. Frisco told him that he (Barry) was that way to everybody. He wouldn’t give him a chance to respond to what happened and told him to put his clothes on and “Have a Nice Day”. I have worked with at least 300 doctors during my working life and have never seen anyone be treated like that. It is obvious to me that these community physicians have no idea or could care less about the situations of their VA patients.

  7. Donald Thompson says:

    Have an approved CHOICE card; needed ordinary X-Rays but PA insisted I travel 200 mi. round-trip to VA instead of CHOICE approved local hospital. I declined & never got them.

      • Wadena Sieler-Colbert says:

        I wish there were someone who all these complaints could go to.  The Choice program IS a joke not to mention VERY frustrating.  I get really upset with the Liberals on Facebook who tout how wonderful Bernie Sanders is because he voted for it.  As usual Congress didn’t bother to figure out how to make it work properly.

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