Because I live in Kansas, one of my US Senators is my father’s close friend & neighbor, Jerry Moran. Because I’m a constituent, I’ve elected to receive his email newsletter. Here is what he recently had to say about the Veteran’s Choice program:
Pressing the VA to Fix Choice Act Implementation
On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to discuss the proposed VA Choice Program Consolidation Plan. This plan addresses how the Choice program will function in the future, but Kansas veterans continue to struggle right now with access to care in their communities through Choice. This is because of the flawed implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act). Many of our VA medical facilities in Kansas are only open part-time, or do not have a full-time medical doctor on staff, causing those who have sacrificed for our nation to struggle to receive needed medical services.
During the hearing, I had the opportunity to press Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson on the eligibility requirements for the Choice program, and whether they are being interpreted and implemented correctly. Common sense tells us that if you live within 40 miles of a VA facility, but that clinic cannot provide you with the services you require, or does not have a medical doctor on staff, you should be able to receive care closer to home. I am pleased that Deputy Secretary Gibson agreed that those veterans living within 40 miles of a clinic open only part-time are eligible for Choice. Additionally, Sec. Gibson committed to providing more information on those eligible veterans so we can make certain they are aware of the resources available to them. Veterans deserve a VA worthy of their service and sacrifice, and I will continue to push the senior administrators at the Department of Veterans Affairs to fix the problems within the Choice Act today so we can make certain Kansas Veterans have access to timely, quality care.
One thought that immediately comes to mind is the observation of how politicians use language to mask realities. Sen. Moran said there was a failed implementation of the Choice Act – but having read the act myself (and as one who has tried to use it without success) I can tell you that the Choice Act was so specifically written that it was DESIGNED to fail exactly the way it did. It wasn’t an implementation failure, it was a design flaw.