Increased Access to Private Care for U.S. Veterans

As part of the Mission Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is planning to allow veterans to use their health benefits to access care from private providers. However, the proposed guidelines would shift billions of dollars away from government-run veterans’ hospitals, potentially forcing closures.

“Most veterans chose to serve their country, so they should have the choice to access care in the community with their VA benefits – especially if the VA can’t serve them in a timely and convenient manner,” Dan Caldwell, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, told The New York Times.

Proponents of the change argue that private care would mean shorter waits and more choices, but critics warn that it could strain private resources and burden taxpayers, noting that the specialty care provided by veterans’ hospitals will dissipate under funding constraints.

“We don’t like it,” Rick Weidman, executive director of Vietnam Veterans of America, told The New York Times. “This thing was initially sold as to supplement the VA, and some people want to try and use it to supplant.”

Although the details of the plan are forthcoming, it will most likely resemble Tricare Prime, the military’s insurance plan, which has looser restrictions than the VA for letting patients access private care.

Source: The New York Times, January 12, 2019.