The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, (signed into law Aug 7, 2014 as Pub.L. 113-146.) may not meet important tasks in time. (see govtrak for bill details).
The VA has no later than 90 days to issue the Veterans’ Choice Card to eligible vets. So that means on or about Nov. 6 veterans living over 40 miles from a medical center (and fewer miles for some conditions) should have their cards. Or if they are waiting for certain services for over 30-days.
However, Solicitation VA79114N0090, which appeared on FedBizOpps.gov, shows that the VA is late in seeking a third party administrator (TPA). For details, plug the # in solicitation/keyword box and search). In Sept. the VA held an information event for potential vendors in Colorado about: Non-VA Third Party Administrator to support the implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014. (I emailed a VA employee for information on TPAs but have received no response and I don’t see any notices on the VA website.)
The text of the law reads–
(f) Veterans Choice Card-
(1) IN GENERAL- For purposes of receiving care and services under this section, the Secretary shall, not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, issue to each veteran described in subsection (b)(1) a card that may be presented to a health care provider to facilitate the receipt of care or services under this section. (2) NAME OF CARD- Each card issued under paragraph (1) shall be known as a `Veterans Choice Card’. (3) DETAILS OF CARD- Each Veterans Choice Card issued to a veteran under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
(A) The name of the veteran. (B) An identification number for the veteran that is not the social security number of the veteran. (C) The contact information of an appropriate office of the Department for health care providers to confirm that care or services under this section are authorized for the veteran. (D) Contact information and other relevant information for the submittal of claims or bills for the furnishing of care or services under this section. (E) The following statement: `This card is for qualifying medical care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs. Please call the Department of Veterans Affairs phone number specified on this card to ensure that treatment has been authorized.’.
I expect major news outlets will pick up on this story soon, but I don’t see much activity at the moment. I would starting calling your local VMAC if you live over 40 miles away and ask for the mandated card.
Maybe they can email temporary cards to eligible vets who are enrolled in myhealthyevets. This program is different from the PCCC programs and the VA Clinics. And the VA will be the second payer, or payer of last resort, if other insurance is available. But getting the card is an important security for a veteran who is afraid to go to a non-contracted VA health provider without it. And I know for a fact in places like Dallas, if you don’t have health insurance, you don’t get to see a doctor. It’s the first question asked by staffers and it is confirmed. That’s why the uninsured, including vets, go to the nearest ER and wait.