VA Mails Second Round of Choice Cards To Help Reduce Wait Times
The Department of Veterans Affairs this week started mailing the second round of Veterans Choice Cards to veterans who are currently waiting more than 30 days for a VA health care appointment, the Washington Post's "Federal Eye" reports (Hicks, "Federal Eye," Washington Post, 11/18).
The choice cards were implemented under a VA reform bill signed in August that aims to increase veterans' access to care by providing them with federally subsidized care at non-VA facilities. VA plans to issue the choice cards to about nine million veterans who have faced difficulty obtaining treatment either due to VA scheduling delays or because they live 40 miles or farther from a VA facility.
VA will roll out the choice cards in three stages, with the third set of veterans set to receive their cards in December or January 2015. VA began the first round on Nov. 5, issuing cards to veterans who live at least 40 miles from a VA facility (O'Brien, CQ Roll Call, 11/18).
VA Debates Timeline for Issuing Cards
In related news, VA Secretary Robert McDonald earlier this month disputed allegations that the legislation mandated the VA to complete issuing the cards by Nov. 6, contending that the law did not "specify which cards would go out on which days" ("Federal Eye," Washington Post, 11/18).
Similarly, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson defended the longer timeframe at the House VA Committee last week. He said the agency's "fundamental concern" was that about 8.3 million veterans "would not have an immediate benefit under the act." He added that issuing cards by Nov. 5 would "create chaos and jam the phone lines with people calling to get explanations" (CQ Roll Call, 11/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.