Proposed Veterans Choice Card Program Expansion
from the Association of VA P
sychologist Leaders, Association of
Workers, American Psychological
Association and National Associ
ation of Social
October 22, 2015
Many veterans wait unacceptably long times for appointments in
the Veterans Health
Administration (VHA). The Veterans Access, Choice, Accountabili
ty and Transparency
Act of 2014 Choice Card Program was enacted as a three-year sol
ution to address
access problems for selected veterans. One year into that pilot
, there are concerted
Congressional efforts to expand the Choice Program, and make it
There are no additional appropriations in the Choice Card Progr
am expansion bills;
funding for expanding the Choice Card Program would come by sip
from VHA Medical Centers & Community Based Outpatient Clinics -
- downsizing the
number of VHA providers and programs. The effect over time woul
d be to dismantle the
VHA system and privatize care for veterans.
The proposed expansion of Choice is predicated on popular myths
, which are critiqued
Myths about VHA Health Care and Choice Program Expansion
Quality of VHA healthcare is worse than in other healthcare systems.
Independent evaluations have repeatedly found that VHA outpati
outperforms non-VHA commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid HMO outp
on virtually every single measure of quality. VHA hospitals per
form as good or
better than non-VHA hospitals on most, but not all, inpatient q
Veterans with mental health problems are getting inadequate VHA care.
In fact: The
2011 RAND evaluation reported that t
he quality of VHA mental health
care “is as good as or better than that reported for patients w
diagnoses who received care through private insurers, Medicare,
Delayed access in the VHA is systemic.
Although excessive appointment delays exist in specific locatio
recent MITRE/RAND assessment found
no system-wide crisis in acc
ess to VHA
Timeliness for mental/behavioral healthcare in VHA is as good
than in commercial and public plans.
The VHA is doing an inferior job addressing veteran suicides.
In a recent national study of suicides between 2000 and 2010, v
who used VHA services had
rates of suicide, while veterans not utilizing
VHA had increased rates.
Since its launch eight years ago, the 24-hour
Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 1.86 million calls
from veterans and
their family/friends; care coordination for callers is easier i
n cases when a
veteran’s provider is in the VHA than in the community.