Tester comes to Billings for Veteran Listening Session - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Tester comes to Billings for Veteran Listening Session

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

Senator Jon tester makes his way to Billings this week for a special listening session to speak with veterans. Tester held the listening session to determine the future of the VA Choice Program.

Tester said he is working to improve the department of Veteran Affairs Choice Program by meeting with veterans, advocates and health care providers.

"What we heard here today were veterans who were continually frustrated with scheduling problems with not being able to let the doctors do their job, with not really decentralizing the VA like what used to happen," Tester said.

Tester heard from Billings veterans who are asking for a change in the way the VA Choice Program is run. Many of them said they have to wait weeks to see a doctor, if not longer.

"I've been declared dead by the people in Ft. Harrison," Veteran Jacqueline Ziegler said. "Which was really amusing. Literally, I was told I couldn't be seen because they thought I was dead because my records were in the basement."

On top of veterans having issues, Tester also said he's heard from providers who say the VA is not paying them on time.

"We've just got to figure out a way to simplify this whole program to make it work better for our veterans," Tester said. "And make it so the providers want to be a part of the program  instead of walking away from it."

     The goal of the listening session is to hear some of the issues veterans have been having to try to iron them out. 

"Everybody is different, every region is different," Ziegler said. "One blanket model does not work for everybody."

"What we've come up with at the Veteran's Affairs committee in the senate is a bill that works for Veteran's," Tester said. "And works for providers. We've got to do things that's going to cut red tape and make it user friendly."

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