By Andy GERO
VA Medical Care vs. Civilian Doctors
The Choice Program, designed to provide faster medical appointments for veterans with civilian doctors, needs fixing. Changes were made recently to address driving distances, delayed appointments at a Dept. of Veterans Affairs facility, difficulty in reaching appointments due to physical condition, and more to make it easier for veterans to get care.
Health Net was hired to make appointments. A veteran can’t just call a doctor to make an appointment and expect the VA to pay the bill. Health Net must make the appointment within the allotted period, but that doesn’t always happen. Health Net is required to call the correct specialist for the veteran’s needs, which doesn’t always happen either.
Health Net processes the bills for the civilian medical providers –eventually. One provider announced that it was owed a lot of money, and the burden of being a Choice provider was too much to deal with. Veterans are reporting that they’re receiving bills that should have been paid.
Veterans who are having difficulties with a civilian provider should contact their state’s U.S. senators by phone, email or letter and inform them of their difficulty. Go online to www.senate.gov and click Senators to find their contact information. Tell your story in summary form, hitting the highlights: inability to get a medical appointment, long telephone wait times, etc.
Andy Gero is a life member of American Legion Post 288 and VFW Post 1614. He may be reached through the CV Weekly at (818) 248-2740 or write Crescenta Valley Weekly at 3800 La Crescenta Ave., Suite 101, La Crescenta, CA 91214.