Late last month, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin offered a plan to let veterans escape the VA's beleaguered health system.
His proposal would expand the agency's existing Veterans Choice Program — an initiative that was supposed to allow veterans to seek care from private health care providers if they face long wait times or live too far away from a VA facility. Under Choice 2.0, as he called it, all veterans would have this option.
But the Choice program needs more than an upgrade, as a recent report from the Veterans Affairs' Inspector General makes clear. Thanks to cumbersome rules and bureaucratic incompetence, the investigation found, wait times were sometimes worse for Choice patients than for those who stayed inside the VA.
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In other words, even when the VA health system sends patients elsewhere, it still keeps veterans from getting timely medical care. It's time to fully voucherize the VA — and give America's veterans direct control over when, where and from whom they seek and receive treatment.
Congress established the Veterans Choice program following a 2014 scandal in which VA staff were caught falsifying data to hide the long — and sometimes deadly — wait times at many government-run clinics.Read the rest of this IBD op-ed HERE.
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