After the week's news of Cabinet secretaries taking vacations courtesy of the American taxpayer, my anger was piqued when reading the Sept. 30 news article "Taxpayers covered part of tab on VA secretary's sightseeing days in Europe."
As a clinical psychologist, I provide mental-health services to veterans through the Veterans Choice Program, started a few years ago to reduce wait times for veterans by credentialing civilian health providers to treat veterans. Despite the cumbersome credentialing and claims processes and the low fees paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is a privilege to work with veterans. From them, I regularly hear about the long delays in obtaining health services and medical equipment. My own experience with Veterans Choice has given me an extremely frustrating window into the inefficiencies and inadequate staffing of VA. Claims for services I provided almost a year ago have yet to be processed because they "weren't received" or are "missing information" I have already given numerous times, and it is virtually impossible to reach a human being to resolve problems. (I have twice waited on hold for six hours, to no avail.)
The VA system is making it unaffordable for me to provide treatment to veterans, and I know of other health-care providers who have stopped for this reason. Can Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin think of no better use for VA funds than a cruise on the Thames?
Colette de Marneffe, Takoma Park