It very well might according to the VA itself.
The VA wants my husband to drive about 200 miles round-trip for an x-ray and pulmonary appointment. I called to see if the VA Choice Program (LINK) or non-VA care program could be used instead based on the geographical hardship factor. The VT scheduler said to call back in two days. Then I checked out the VA website and saw the alarming notice to the right. Talk about disincentives!
I will follow-up to see if he’s eligible however after seeing this notice and doing a little reading, I think we’d rather use his Medicare Advantage card, cough up the $50 specialist co-pay and not jeopardize our good credit rating. Besides, according to the VA Choice Provider Search tool, there are no local pulmonary specialists in the program.
According to a recent article in the Military Times (HADIT.com link here) providers are not being paid for months and some veterans are getting calls from collection agencies. If Medicare fees and payment practices are acceptable to most private practices, the VA and their contractors should be able to follow suit.
We’ve found that Medicare, a single-payer government (yes, democratic socialist) insurance plan, works pretty darn well. Depending on your choices, it can get expensive. We employ different strategies each year. I have original Medicare, plus a medigap policy, and a standalone Part D plan; My husband has a very cheap Medicare Advantage plan until he turns 65. Then we’ll shell out for another medigap plan for him. Dual-eligible, his care will be split between the VA and private care.
The Choice Program is temporary according to the law but it should be perfected, expanded and permanent. Probably Medicare should handle the non-VA care payment aspect of the program since they have the expertise. It would save taxpayers a ton of money too.