Alaska VA launches pilot program to schedule appointments

ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Veterans Affairs Healthcare System has launched a pilot program to revert the process of scheduling appointments to how it was before reforms.

Alaska veterans will no longer have to call a third-party company to schedule appointments, as they did with the nationwide Choice Program. Instead, they will speak directly to Alaska VA staff, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

The office of Sen. Dan Sullivan announced the change in the wake of meetings the senator had with Alaska veterans.

“Senator Sullivan has heard from numerous Alaskan vets who would like to see things ‘go back to the way they were before choice,’” said Mike Anderson, Sullivan’s press secretary. “Senator Sullivan is hopeful that this change will improve upon what Alaska used to have, and in the end give veterans more choices over their health care.”

Sullivan held a Senate committee field hearing in Eagle River in August. At the meeting, veterans were highly critical of the Choice Program, which was supposed to increase health care access. Many veterans and health care officials said the program instead added more bureaucracy to trying to make appointments and pay bills.

The new program assigns Alaska veterans to VA facilities. If there is no availability at the prescribed facility, VA officials will try Department of Defense or Indian Health Service facilities, then Choice providers and next non-Choice providers.

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