• linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    VA Choice: Not what the doctor ordered


    Henry Rosevear, MD

    Urology Times Blogger Profile

    Dr. Rosevear is a urologist in community practice in Colorado Springs, CO.

    As a veteran myself, when I first heard about the government’s Veterans Choice program, I immediately talked to my partners and ensured that my practice enrolled. It seemed this was one of those rare incidents when a government program would not only would help the patient but would simultaneously help small businesses.

    Interesting: Is bigger better in today's urology practice?

    For those not familiar with the program, the idea was that any veteran who has been waiting more than 30 days for VA medical care or who lived more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility could receive health care within their community, funded by the VA without impacting their existing VA health care or any other VA benefit. Reimbursement would be at Medicare rates, so while no one would get rich off these program, we wouldn’t lose money treating these patients either (unlike some other government-funded programs, ie, Medicaid).

    I was thrilled. I live in a community that has a strong retired military presence and I thought this would be a great way for me to serve these patients. I was wrong yet again. The VA Choice program wasn’t designed to bring VA patients to community physicians; rather, it was designed to turn community physicians into VA doctors. And that does not work.

    Read— Medicine and the market: New data show the price ain't right

    How did we get here? Back in 2014, a number of reports surfaced of “secret” wait lists at various VA hospitals (simply Google “VA secret wait list” to find dozens of these reports, including the initial report from CNN by Scott Bronstein and Drew Griffin). This was confirmed by the VA Inspector General in a May 28, 2014 report. This issue affected numerous facilities, including the closest VA hospital to me, the Denver VA. As a result of this controversy, the government passed a law in August 2014 called the “Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014,” which instituted a number of changes and created the VA Choice program.

    Next: Limitations of this program and what can be done to improve it.

    Henry Rosevear, MD
    Dr. Rosevear, a member of the Urology Times Clinical Practice Board, is in private practice at Pikes Peak Urology, Colorado Springs, CO.

    1 Comment

    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • Another big problem is I cant even do a urine culture so lets say the VA pt has a rip roaring UTI. I have to send him back to the VA have the urine culture ordered by them , obtained correctly and results sent back to me in a timely manner. I've had them cancel the order because the pt on CIC couldn't void !!!!!. Or if I do a cysto I cant collect a culture !! Bad medicine . I say get rid of the VA ( maybe keep it as a rehab type facility ) , convert all VA insurance to medicare.