Written by Nicholas Vetrisek
Over the last 4 years, the VA has gone from the textbook example of failed government bureaucracy to an efficiently run system with a 94% case resolution rate. Despite all this progress, there is still much to be done, particularly with the San Diego branch.
Last week, a report came out showing that the VA is making it more difficult for veterans to receive medical care outside of the system. One Army veteran named Richard Guilfoyle spoke about the issue and said that he has had three appointments to get approval to see his outside therapist, Keynan Hobbs, but to no avail.
Hobbs is having the same issue with the VA on the other end, attempting to get them to approve his treatment for veterans. Hobbs, a fellow veteran, said “I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what I needed to fix to get veterans back into my practice. This isn’t just my job, these are my brothers and sisters and my purpose — I didn’t stop protecting them when I left combat.”
According to Alexandra Laiffer, an Oceanside therapist, the issue is the VA doesn’t have enough people in the system to handle the 80,000 veterans. TriWest Healthcare Alliance was the contractor in charge of coordinating outside therapists with the VA. Due to a law passed in 2018, the company has gone “virtual” and major problems have arisen.
Laiffer said “The policy change was rolled out in such a disastrous way that it’s just not workable right now. The entire San Diego team at TriWest was let go, and the new community care network office at the VA, I believe, is only staffed by four people, which, given the scope of this region and the number of people we’re serving, is absolutely ludicrous, Laiffer stated.”
In essence, the VA doesn’t have enough people to deal with 80,000 patients but since the VA still has to authorize every outside treatment, massive delays have resulted.
Hopefully, these issues will be resolved soon so veterans can get the care they need. The VA has made great strides in the last few years and this seems to one of the very few problems that remain. Those who serve our country honorably should receive the finest treatment available.
Photo via Department of Veterans Affairs