The VA said Wednesday that it wants to consolidate seven different programs that allow veterans to receive care from private doctors, saying that the operations have become too unwieldy as Congress has added more beneficiaries to the rolls.
Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said veterans are getting confused by the multiple programs, each with different eligibility rules, and that means some of them aren’t using programs that could help. He said their new plan would make sure that when a veteran seeks care and the VA can’t provide it in a timely manner, they can get it from a private doctor.
“It’s all too complicated. Too complicated for veterans, for community providers, and for VA staff as well,” he told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.
Mr. Gibson said the VA would need a “one time” infusion of $421 million to begin fine-tuning the programs, and between $400 million and $600 million a year going forward. But he said the cost could spike if the New Choice Program, as the VA is calling it, proves so popular that it attracts new patients.
The plan would clarify patient eligibility requirements, streamline the co-pay and provider billing and reimbursement process and create a good network of private doctors working with the VA, and able to share medical records with the department.
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