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Voices / Letters from readers

Changes in VA program make it worlds apart from 2014 version

RE: “Why people believe in genuinely fake news” [Viewpoint, Sep. 9]:

As an example of what Rebecca Coffey refers to as President Trump’s 20,000 lies, she references that on Aug. 8 he created another lie regarding the signing of the Veterans Choice Program. Ms. Coffey notes that Veterans Choice was “signed into law” by President Obama in 2014.

The clarification is that the 2014 bill, and the restructured bill signed in 2020, are not the same bill. The 2020 Veterans Choice is a much-improved situation.

In 2014, if your VA physician informed you that a certain treatment would be needed, generally you would have to ask if they could enact Veterans Choice. If agreed, the VA would give you the telephone number of an independent contractor that ran the program and would be the deciding agent to approve going outside the VA system.

You would have to plan on days of being on hold waiting to speak with someone, and my experience was that approval was difficult to achieve. On one occasion, I received approval for treatment at my local hospital, made the appointment, and was treated — and two weeks later, I received a substantial bill. When I questioned the hospital billing department, I was informed that they did not accept Veterans Choice.

Now compare this to the restructured bill that President Trump signed in 2020.

Your VA physician tells you treatment is needed and that you have the option to go outside the VA system to a facility of your choice. If that is your choice, the VA contacts the facility and generates a referral, and then you are contacted to make the appointment.

The approval comes from the VA, which makes the appointment generated by the referral.

The 2014 bill signed by President Obama and the 2020 bill signed by President Trump are worlds apart in procedure to receive treatment.

Marshall Stanton
Hinsdale, N.H.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #579 (Wednesday, September 16, 2020). This story appeared on page C3.

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