Tags: Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | VA Scandal | Betsy McCaughey | veterans | healthcare | VA

Health Policy Expert: VA Bill Doesn't Really Offer Choice

By Courtney Coren   |   Friday, 01 Aug 2014 06:14 PM

In spite of its name, healthcare policy expert Betsy McCaughey says that the Veterans Access Choice and Accountability Act, which passed the House and Senate, doesn't "really give veterans choice."

New York's former lieutenant governor tells Ed Berliner on "MidPoint" on Newsmax TV Friday that "it only gives them a choice card."

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The almost $17 billion bill aimed at fixing problems at the Veterans Affairs Administration passed in the Senate on Thursday and the House on Wednesday and  awaits President Barack Obama's signature. The measure is supposed to allow veterans who live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or who aren't able to get an appointment within 30 days the option of seeing a private doctor.

However, McCaughey says that "there are so many hurdles between getting the choice card and actually having a choice to go to a civilian doctor."

"First, you have to get certified that you haven't been able to get a VA appointment within what the VA considers a reasonable time or you live 40 miles or more from a VA hospital," the Newsmax columnist explained. "Good luck getting that letter."

"I know vets who have waited months, calling the VA hospital every day and not gotten a response," McCaughey said. "Then, if you get [approved] . . . they put you on a waiting list and then you have to wait for them, wait, wait, wait for them to make an appointment with a doctor." 

"If you finally get that appointment with a civilian doctor, the doctor then has to call the VA hospital and get prior approval before treating you," she said.

"Here's the most outrageous part of all: If you manage to get to a civilian doctor and get the care you need, this bill says you could only be under that doctor's care for 60 days, then back to the VA you go," she added.

McCaughey said the bill is really aimed at protecting union jobs.

"They don't want vets leaving the VA system to get civilian care because it will mean fewer union jobs," she contends.

McCaughey wrote about the problems with the VA bill in her latest Newsmax column, "VA Reform Bill a Sham."

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