Northland veterans sound off about health care

by Bob King

By John Lundy

A program that’s supposed to help veterans who live in rural areas get health care close to home is failing them, said several veterans who attended a forum in Duluth on Friday.

“We got the Choice card, and we thought: ‘Boy, here we go,'” said Tom Moors, a 68-year-old veteran from Bigfork who served in the Vietnam War. “Well, I’ve used it twice, and it’s a debacle.”

The Choice Act, passed by Congress a year ago, allows veterans who have been waiting for more than 30 days to be seen at a Veterans Affairs facility or who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility to be covered for care in a non-VA hospital or clinic.

But U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, and Tim Walz, D-Mankato, heard about a litany of delays, endless waits on hold and runarounds from veterans who have tried to use the program. The congressmen led a Veterans Roundtable in conjunction with a Veterans StandDown sponsored by the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

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