On Monday night KUOW reporter Patricia Murphy received a frantic call from her sister in New Jersey: “YOU’RE ON THE F*&%ING DAILY SHOW!” she said.
And sure enough, Trish’s low, distinctive voice was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in a segment titled, “Doctor When.” The story was about the Choice program, a Veterans Affairs initiative to curb wait times and travel times for veterans in remote areas.
Watch the clip:
Gloria Hoeppner, 89, is a Navy veteran who lives with her husband in the San Juan Islands. To see a doctor, she usually has to take a ferry from her home on Friday Harbor. It can take hours.
Hoeppner recently had a heart attack. As she was discharged from the hospital, the staff set up follow-up appointments with a cardiologist on the island. But when Hoeppner called a program set up last summer for rural veterans, she was told she didn’t qualify for local care, even though it takes her hours to get to the nearest Veterans Affairs facility 38 miles away.
That program, called the Veterans Choice Program, was a $15 billion promise by Congress. Its premise is straightforward: When a veteran lives far from a Veterans Affairs hospital, or can’t get an appointment with a VA doctor within a month, he or she may seek care with a provider outside the VA.
As it turns out, Hoeppner does qualify for the Choice program, as do all veterans in the San Juan Islands. Sen. Patty Murray made sure that people who have to ride ferries to get to the VA are included.