Veterans Choice Program delays care for months

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Fifty-seven days, that's how long it's taken veteran Chris Kornkven to make an appointment through the Veteran Choice Program.

"It’s frustrating. It’s as though nothing at all is happening," said Kornkven.

Fed up with the way the Veterans Choice Program was working, Kornkven was advised by an employee at the VA Medical Center to reach out to local representatives; so he did, calling the office of Congressman Scott Tipton, only to learn he's not alone.

"Immediately, his aid had said ‘that we’re hearing from quite a few veterans that were having a lot of problems in getting an appointment,’" said Kornkven.

Kornkven needs to see a neurosurgeon, to help ease a pain, which makes everyday tasks, even things as simple as walking, extremely difficult.

"When I’m walking around day to day, at work, or at home I have pains shooting down my legs and I wonder how much worse is this going to get? Am I causing any other damage by continuing to walk with it?" said Kornkven.

Senator Michael Bennet, is taking action, introducing the “Improving Veterans Access to Care in the Community Act," designed to eliminate some of the program's problems.

“Colorado’s veterans are rightfully frustrated that the Choice program isn’t working properly. It’s still entirely too difficult for veterans to schedule an appointment, and it’s too difficult for VA employees to work through a third party. On the provider side, the administrative burden is too high for local providers to participate, and when they do, they aren’t being paid on time,” Bennet said. “Our bill takes aim at red tape to make a number of improvements on the Choice program to ensure our veterans are receiving quality care in a timely manner.”

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