BOSTON (CBS) – After a wait-time scandal, it was supposed to be a program that helped veterans get access to faster, more convenient access to medical care.

However, several years since implementation, the WBZ-TV I-Team found the Veterans Choice program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to have issues.

Problems include a confusing appointment process, community health care providers not getting paid, and veterans being harassed by bill collectors.

Charles Price Sr. was on the front lines in Italy for some of the most dangerous battles of World War II, fighting with the 36th Infantry Division from Texas and Oklahoma.

Charles Price Sr. (WBZ-TV)

Looking back, the Army combat veteran is thankful he somehow survived, making it back home safety to his wife and newborn son.

“Someone was watching over me,” Price told WBZ. “People wondered how I could go through six battles without a scratch.”

However, the 95-year-old recently had to fight a different kind of battle: One with his own government.

“It makes me very angry,” he expressed.

Charles Price Sr. and his son. (WBZ-TV)

Price was upset because in late 2016, he was having serious health issues. His son, Charles Price III, said his dad would have waited several months to see a doctor at the Bedford VA, where he typically receives all his in-patient care.

“There was urgency because he wasn’t keeping his food down,” Price explained. “We didn’t feel he could wait.”

The VA recommended Price as a candidate for the Choice program, which is designed to let veterans see doctors in the private sector if they have to wait at least 30 days for an appointment. As a result, Price received his treatment at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington.

“As far as we knew, everything should’ve been covered and taken care of,” Price explained.

Charles Price Sr. received help from the I-Team after an error in medical building. (WBZ-TV)

But months later, a surprise arrived in the mail: a bill for $4,450.62. Even though it said “Veterans Choice” on the invoice, the program had denied payment. As a result, the financial responsibility landed on the shoulders of the 95-year-old veteran.

“I was shocked,” his son told WBZ. “After we availed ourselves of a service they recommended, now they won’t pay? I just didn’t feel that would stand.”

Price unsuccessfully tried to resolve the situation for his dad, and then he decided to contact the I-Team.

Comments (2)
  1. John Spencer says:

    I think vets like Price should have been helped related these kind of problems. I think he will need a lawyer to fight against those debt collectors. I just read similar story about a consumer who sued a collection agency with help of a law firm called Lemberg Law, and won.

  2. Kathy Owen says:

    You want to talk non paid medical bills from what Choice won’t pay? I lost count after 3 going on 4 years of unpaid medical bills by Choice. I think my husbands medical bills total more than $45,000 worth of bills. He has stage 4 liver failure, needs a weekly Paracentesis to drain his abdomen of fluid. It was all approved by Choice, but I have been battling with them to pay the bills for 3 years now. It got to the point I took it to the House Committee On Veterans Affairs, they never answered me. So I took it to my Arizona Congressman, VA just gave him the run around. So then I took it to President Trump and got results. The VA/Tri West said they would take care of the matter…NOPE! Bills still coming in the mail, collections agencies call day and night and even on weekends. I can show you stacks and after page of non paid medical bills. It’s crazy!!

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