VA Reform Bill is a Sham, Union’s Win and Vets Lose Again

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You wont believe the hoops veterans will have to jump through with the new bill

Washington lawmakers rushed to enact the Veterans Reform Bill Friday evening which they proclaim will unclog the Veterans backlog and help expedite the processing of veterans.  However, the urgency to pass this before August recess was just another move for members of congress to save face prior to November, 2014 elections.

Unfortunately, this bill will not help save any sick veterans from the inevitable VA healthcare death panels. The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, will only help unions and the broken bureaucracy flourish. All while keeping veterans shackled to the mismanaged bureaucratic system that they have grown to fear.

Hope and Change… not so fast

It does give veterans a glimmer of hope, but that ends when they learn the facts.  The process becomes even more complicated when veterans learn they must first navigate through the new laws and regulations, only further complicating things in order to see a care provider outside the VA.

The most ridiculous part of the bill is the Veterans Choice Card, which is more of a smoke screen than anything else. According to 101(f) it states that every vet enrolled in the VA system will be issued this card, and if they want to seek private care they must present it to their civilian healthcare provider to expedite the certification of care.

Piling on the hope and change are we? If it were only that easy as to have a magical card to swipe away our worries.  Even Representative Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, made it appear like real change was made when he said ‘‘The VA has caused this problem, and one of the ways that we can help solve it is to give veterans a choice, a choice to stay in the system or a choice to go out of the system,’’

The veteran has no “choice” in the matter.

Every vet may get a card, but it’s not their choice whether they can seek care outside the VA, and not every vet with the card can even use it. In order to use this card vets first have to prove they’ve waited longer than what the VA considers reasonable (thirty days but subject to change) or that they live outside the 40 mile radius from a VA care provider. Then they need to go back to the VA and have the Veterans Affairs secretary place their name on an electronic waiting list (yes another wait list) for a referral that is then sent back down to their regional VA office.

Wow, have fun getting that completed. If the referral does get approved, their private civilian doctor must then call the VA hotline to get yet another approval. According to Section 101 (h) if a veteran does get through bureaucratic maze to see a private doctor they will only have sixty days before its back to the VA for care.

You can see how mismanaged the system is, now imagine having PTSD and navigating this on a daily basis. It’s no wonder why veteran suicides are sky rocketing.

Bureaucratic disaster

As a triple amputee, I’ve had my share of difficult experiences in scheduling appointments with the VA. Earlier in the year I needed a special rubber glove to protect my prosthetic hand, I had to wait two months just to sit in front of a panel of doctors and specialists to and tell them “I need a rubber glove for my prosthetic hand”.

I frequently find myself asking why these visits couldn’t’ have been handled over the phone or perhaps via email? Meanwhile, I receive my prosthetic care from a private provider and I was holding the exact glove that I needed, but they wouldn’t release it to me because the prosthetic company never had the VA authorization.

This authorization wasn’t given by the VA until two months later, when I sat in front of the 8 person panel and sufficiently explained why I needed this glove to protect my $100,000 hand that the American taxpayers funded via the Department of Veterans Affairs.

That’s how ridiculous these procedures and regulations have become, and issues like this will not be fixed by the bill.

Here’s my questions to lawmakers: “why have you created so many hurdles for veterans who need expedited care?” Is it because unions oppose outsourcing and that the VA budget is based off of how many vets seek care through them? Once again, this administration believes it can spend its way out of a problem while ignoring the proper care of our veterans and increasing the budget which, in the end only benefits the unions.

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