Letter: Congress accountable for mess
This is concerning your excellent article “Veterans Choice program frustrates vets needing care” dated Feb. 3.
I also was caught up in this program when I was attempting to get my eye care through the VA. The VA made an appointment for me with their provider on Oct. 29, 2015. The VA then contacted the Choice program to make an appointment for me with an optometrist to have my glasses fitted and made. In December, I contacted Choice and told them that I had not yet received an appointment and spent the next 20 days calling them about it and listening to their excuses as to why they had not made the appointment.
When I got no answers I contacted Rep. Scott Tipton’s office and informed them of my dilemma. Even then it took the entire month of January before I finally got my appointment on Feb. 4.
In January, my VA provider said that I needed to have a nuclear stress test on my heart due to a problem with my EKG. I received a letter from the VA stating that since they did not do these tests I would have to contact the Choice program for an appointment with a non-VA provider. I contacted the Choice program on Jan. 13 and asked them to make the appointment. They told me that they do not determine who I should see so I told them of two hospitals that might do the test since I am not really informed about this.
Prior to this program the VA would make the appointment with the proper provider. As of this date I have not received an appointment and have again contacted Rep. Tipton’s office. Their response is to send an email to Choice and also stated that I should give Choice more time.
I see that when Congress passed this act they awarded a total of $9.3 billion to two private contractors, Health Net and Tri-Care West to implement the program. Based on what has happened to me and veteran Earl West, it is obvious that these contractors are not qualified and are incapable of doing this. This appears to be a perfect example of a patronage system used by Congress to reward their special interests.
I understand that Rep. Scott Tipton, Rep. Cory Gardener and Sen. Michael Bennet have called for an investigation of the problems. Perhaps it would be more useful to investigate why these members of Congress voted for this dysfunctional and useless Choice Act instead of voting to adequately fund the VA to solve the purported problems. I am sure that with $9.3 billion the VA could have done the job very well.
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