A lot has changed since 2017 for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA Accountability & Whistleblower Protection Act was passed, a new secretary of Veterans Affairs has been appointed, and the Mission Act, enabling veterans the opportunity to have a say in their health care options, was passed. All of these changes came about following calls from nearly 4 million American veterans and they occurred with the support of both Democrats and Republicans in order to provide a better life for those in the military who served our country.
In practice, members of the VA staff have not adhered to these changes, even though the president and Congress are staunchly committed to these programs with the goal of helping veterans. Head of the Veterans Health Administration, Dr. Richard Stone, has said that 90 percent of veterans choose to stay within the VA, as opposed to utilizing local community health care.
Veterans are reporting the opposite in that VA staff are reluctant to offer these options that afford veterans more choices in their health care. Veterans say that responses from the VA have been, “No,” “Can’t” or “Won’t.”
There are over 9 million veterans currently enrolled in the VA health care system and per the Mission Act, the VA is supposed to be accountable for the rapid and successful treatment of veterans, by utilizing innovative care and treatment options. The fact is that the staff of medical professionals and social workers within the VA struggle to support 9 million health care cases, which are increasing with each passing year.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, and many other diseases that demand innovative care, are health care issues that the VA struggles to provide solutions for. When a veteran recognizes these issues and seeks help, their life typically hinges upon their quality of care and a solution. Health care options outside of the VA would help minimize some of the all-too-common veteran suicides, overdoses, incidents of depression and rash decisions in VA parking lots.
Twenty veteran suicides per day clearly and sadly points out that the veteran community suffers from depression, substance use, and a lack of one-on-one interaction with medical professionals and social workers to assist with these challenges.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that veteran health care options outside the VA are rarely embraced by VA case managers and medical staff, who are opposed to any treatment program provided by external entities, despite VA limitations. If the VA does prescribe a specific form of health care, the VA deems that it should ONLY be provided directly from a VA facility, without any consideration of a veteran’s right to choose.
There are private medical companies, who care for and support veterans, that have reached out to VA headquarters and other ancillary clinics and offices in order to share their results and offer services, but with little or no success. The amazingly beneficial results of these private, innovative companies, in conjunction with the purpose of the Choice Program and the Mission Act, should be compelling enough to require that the VA at least consider using these medical companies to provide the level of care veterans deserve.
American military veterans who chose to serve our country should certainly be allowed to choose their own health care options.
The Injured Veterans legal team at Gordon & Partners is here for military veterans and their families. Please contact us immediately, if you are having difficulty with your claim or you are not receiving the disability benefits to which you are entitled. Call us at 1-888-231-9144 or fill out the form on this website.
Read the full story here: https://www.militarytimes.com/opinion/commentary/2019/02/27/veterans-want-autonomy-in-health-care-choices/