This past weekend, new Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin outlined his top priorities for the embattled VA. Secretary Shulkin addressed Disabled American Veterans’ annual conference on Sunday, where he discussed the top 10 priorities he has for the VA during his tenure as secretary. These priorities include more accountability measures for employees, and eliminating the current Choice Program in favor of a better choice solution.
Secretary Shulkin is calling this solution “Choice 2.0” and includes doing away with the “40-mile, 30-day” rule. Under current law, veterans may seek care outside the VA health system if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or if the VA can’t give them an appointment within 30 days of their request. This program was a quick fix in the wake of the Phoenix VA wait list scandal, but it was not meant to be a long-term solution; thus the need for “redesigning” the program.
Secretary Shulkin has laid out bold priorities for the VA following years of scandal. It’s encouraging that he sees the current Choice Program as “extremely complex and bureaucratic” – because it certainly is. Wait times have continued to increase since the Choice Program was implemented and the program has created reimbursement and credit issues for veterans.
Empowering veterans with more choice is essential to the VA serving veterans as best it can. This proposal along with increased accountability and transparency measures will ensure the VA is serving veterans as best as it possibly can.
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