Veterans Choice Cards Not Working For Montana Seekers of Alternative Care
The Veterans Choice Act of 2014 may sound like an irony to the vets who seek complimentary or alternative health therapies.
Missoulian Tyler Preston is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan who receives non-VA care at the chiropractic clinic of Dr. Troy Doxey, for a service-related back injury. Preston says that recently, the Veteran’s Administration has been asking seekers of non-VA care to use the new Choice Cards, but that the process to get the card authorized has been a bureaucratic mess.
"I went in and Troy's secretary asked me if I had the Choice Card and I said that yes I had been issued the Choice Card two years ago and I have never been authorized to use it," said Preston. "She smirked a little bit and looked at me and said well never mind. I said well whats going on? I come to find out Troy has been seeing me and treating me since December, unpaid."
Preston says the Choice Cards present a number of hurdles, including the need to call the VA at Fort Harrison to get approval for each individual chiropractic appointment, a process made more difficult because only one Chiropractor works at Fort Harrison. Chiropractor Troy Doxey, who served as an infantryman during the first Gulf War says he rarely sees compensation from the VA.
"It's a scary process actually, to go though and get the authorization to come and see me I won't even tell them I just treat them because I know that I wont get paid for it," said Doxey. "I probably get paid for maybe 10% of the visits I see. Generally speaking, I wont tell the patients because they feel bad and they wont come back and see me and that isn't what my intent is. I don't want to turn them away because they are my brothers."
Some vets are hoping the Veterans Choice Act can be reformed by a Senate Bill sponsored by Montana Senator Jon Tester, who told NPR last week that the managers of Veterans Choice were “inept.” The bill, Known as the “Improving Veterans Access to Care in the Community Act” went to committee last week, but has not yet been voted on.