Few veterans in Black Hills region using new VA program

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By sfgate.com

A new program aiming to simplify private health care coverage for veterans and reduce wait and travel times hasn’t caught on in the Black Hills region.

The VA Black Hills Health Care System reports that only about 2 percent of 3,219 eligible veterans made appointments through the Choice Card program. The system serves more than 19,330 veterans in portions of South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

Stephen DiStasio, the system’s former director, attributes the low participation rate to veterans’ preference for VA care, theRapid City Journal reported. DiStasio said many veterans don’t mind waiting longer because they would rather work with someone from the VA.

DiStasio said the Choice Card program also might be less attractive to eligible veterans since the Black Hills location already had expanded its use of non-VA care before the new program went into effect.

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