FOX23 Investigates: New report details issues with Veteran's Choice program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Quick facts:

  • A new report says veterans may have issues seeing their doctors.
  • The report is in response to complaints about the Veteran's Choice program.
  • The program is reportedly leaving some veterans stuck with the bill after doctor visits.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs' inspector general just put out a 35-page report after a nine-month investigation into the Veteran's Choice program.

A Georgia senator reportedly requested the investigation after receiving numerous complaints from veterans.

FOX23 reported in November that the program is supposed to allow veterans to see their own doctors if their appointments are more than 30 days out or if the nearest VA clinic is more than 40 miles from their homes.

Though the VA is supposed to pay for those visits, some veterans say they aren't paying doctors, at least not quickly.

Some veterans at the American Legion in Cleveland said that the program is more trouble than it's worth.

VA Inspector General puts out a report after its review of the veterans Choice Program. What changes could be in store - in my follow-up FOX23 investigation at 6.

Posted by FOX23 Janna Clark on Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The new report says it is cumbersome for veterans to get a doctor's appointment and find an adequate doctor. It says that veterans waited 45 days for treatment on average, and then they worried about being personally liable for doctor bills.

When doctors aren't paid, they often send the bills to the veterans, who don't pay, because they know the VA is supposed to pay for the services, but then a collections letter shows up in the mail.

The report says there are no safeguards to keep creditors from going after veterans.

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The man in charge of the program, Dr. Baligh Yehia, admits the VA has not always done a good job paying doctors.

He says the VA is working to create a program that makes sense.

The latest review says the VA needs to streamline procedures and pay doctors in a timely manner to make sure veterans aren't stuck with the bills.