A year and a half ago, Americans were horrified to learn that over 100,000 veterans were waiting months for appointments at Veterans Administration facilities, some dying before they ever received care. Two weeks ago, Mainers learned that the intended solution to the problem isn’t working.

Under Veterans Choice, designed to improve veterans’ access to private care, thousands of veterans, especially in rural areas, haven’t been able to see a doctor. As the new crisis unfolds, policymakers should keep a close watch on Health Net, the private company that manages Veterans Choice in New England, and hold it accountable for failing to deliver for Maine’s veterans.

Veterans Choice was established in 2014 amid the national scandal over long waits for appointments. The program allows eligible veterans to visit a private doctor if they live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or if they’ve waited at least 30 days for care.

But only half of the 4,300 Maine veterans who’ve applied for care under Veterans Choice since July have received appointments, according to a recently released report by the VA Maine Healthcare System. Some have had trouble just getting calls returned by Health Net’s hotline. There aren’t enough providers treating veterans under the program, and some of those participating haven’t been paid.

This dismal situation is hardly a shock, given Health Net’s sparse Veterans Choice staffing. Just one Health Net employee is responsible for creating and managing the program’s entire New England provider network. That same person, who works out of New Hampshire, also has to deal with disputes over claims.

Veterans’ hotline calls reach a Health Net call center in Florida that was set up for 500 employees but has just 130 now. According to the Bangor Daily News, even veterans advocates and staff for Maine’s congressional delegation didn’t have a direct phone number or email address for Health Net until Jan. 28, when the report on Veterans Choice was presented at Togus.

The delegation has asked Health Net to have a Maine-based employee who would work with VA Maine Healthcare to recruit providers to Veterans Choice. That would be a step forward.

A review of the VA contract for Health Net should also be planned, since federal auditors say it doesn’t include effectively measure the adequacy of Health Net’s provider networks.

There are more systemic issues, as well. Wait times and provider shortages are barriers to care that also exist outside the VA system. Launching Veterans Choice hasn’t eradicated these obstacles; instead, it’s created a new VA bureaucracy to connect patients with private-sector care providers.

Addressing these more fundamental concerns calls for a longer and more in-depth dialogue. Meanwhile, members of the Maine delegation should join forces with their counterparts from other states that have had trouble with Veterans Choice to press for the changes needed to ensure that the program is capable of consistently enabling those who’ve served our country to access the care they have earned.