We recently informed on the shocking results of an audit conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). If you recall, this audit revealed that more than 57,000 new patients had waited at least 90 days for an appointment at a VA hospital and/or clinic. Numerous citizens agreed with Phillips Law Firm that this was a completely disastrous situation; and, citizens were also vocal in agreeing that our Veterans deserve more. Have these voices been heard? Well, just maybe…thanks to the VA’s new Choice Card Program.
What is the Choice Card Program?
The Choice Program is a new, temporary VA benefit that allows some Veterans to receive health care in their own communities, rather than waiting for a VA appointment. The program began on November 5th when the VA mailed a first round of Choice Cards to Veterans eligible for the program. According to the VA, eligibility for the program is based on a Veteran’s place of residence and cards are being administered to Veterans who are waiting more than 30 days to be seen by their physician.
The VA announced on November 17th that it began mailing Veterans Choice Cards once again as phase two of the agency’s new program. According to Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the “VA continues to focus on implementation of this new temporary benefit so that Veterans receive the timely quality care they need in a way that reduces confusion and inefficiencies.” The Choice Program is part of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), enacted approximately three months ago.
Accelerated Care Initiative
As one result of the VACAA, the VA launched the Accelerated Care Initiative (ACI) over the past summer. The Choice Card Program is closely associated with the ACI. The ACI was essentially launched to improve service delivery for Veterans, namely to accelerate Veterans off of wait lists and into clinics.
To a large degree, the ACI has proven effective. To date, VA medical centers have: increased access to care inside and outside of VA, added more clinic hours and work days, and deployed mobile medical units. More specific results include:
- Scheduling more than 1.2 million more appointments in the past four months than in the same period last year (VA medical centers have scheduled over 19 million Veteran appointments from June to October 1, 2014).
- Reducing the national new patient Primary Care wait time by 18 %.
- Completing 98% of appointments within 30 days of the Veterans’ preferred date, or the date determined to be medically necessary by a physician.
Justice Scores a Point
When Phillips Law Firm first reported on the VA’s audit, we were dismayed. Our firm has always had an unwavering commitment to both our Veterans and to justice. We were appalled that justice was not being upheld for those Veterans that deserve timely and efficient access to medical care.
We are happy to report that VA is apparently trying to turn matters around. The Choice Program, the VACAA, and the ACI are all showing positive results in terms of assisting Veterans in receiving the medical care and treatment they deserve. Granted, more time is required to ensure that the results continue. However, for now, it appears that justice has scored a point.
The attorneys at Phillips Law Firm have assisted Veterans for years in recovering compensation for injuries and medical expenses. These same attorneys have also stood committed towards accelerating the medical care of VA providers. If you are a Veteran and are experiencing delays with getting the treatment you deserve, simply contact us today!