The Department of Veterans Affairs has been working on a replacement for the Veterans Choice Program and so far, the results don’t look great. The VA Mission Act called for a new care program that would expand access to private-sector doctors for veterans. While an implementation deadline of June 6th, 2019 has been set, the White House has recommended that work should stop on the program’s IT system as they believe flaws may create disruptions or confusion.
Richard Stone of the VA pointed out that since the Choice Program expires in June that the new program must move forward to avoid any lapses in coverage and care. He plans on going forward with the new plan notwithstanding the warnings.
The current plan allows veterans to seek private care if certain conditions are met. For standard care the wait would have to be more than 20 days for an appointment or require over 30 minutes of driving to reach a VA doctor. For specialty care the numbers move up to a 28 day wait or a 60 minute drive. One of the goals of the new program is to increase the flexibility of these guidelines.
IT problems have been a recurring theme at the VA, as just last year IT errors caused thousands of GI Bill recipients to receive late payments. Part of the problem may be due to the fact that CIO tenure at the VA has averaged only two years. This hasn’t given enough time for those in the position to be effective and for major changes to take hold.
For veterans injured before 1975, a separate deadline of October 1st looms for caregiver benefits. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says he won’t certify a program that doesn’t work, intimating that the agency has been down that path in the past.
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About the Author: Chris Mack
Chris is a Marketing Manager at Extract with experience in product development, data analysis, and both traditional and digital marketing. Chris received his bachelor’s degree in English from Bucknell University and has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. A passionate marketer, Chris strives to make complex ideas more accessible to those around him in a compelling way.