A VA bill amendment could make it easier for veterans to access health care in the private sector. This is a win for veterans who are now battling rare cancers such as mesothelioma. Enacted on April 19, 2017, the bill amends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 by modifying the termination date for the Veterans Choice Program. The original expiration date was August 7, 2017, which would have left $950 million in Veterans Choice Fund unspent. With the modification, the program will operate until the funds are depleted and veterans can continue to receive health care in the private sector when care is not readily available through a Veterans Health Administration facility.
There are around 22-25 million living veterans in the U.S. today from all wars and branches of service. The VA has just 168 Medical Centers to accommodate them all and most are ill-equipped to handle the unique needs of mesothelioma patients. Even worse is wait times to see the few specialist on staff are often months long.
Thanks to the new bill amendment, veterans can see or continue seeing the doctor of their choice without the fear of receiving medical bills they cannot afford, having to travel long distances for care, or wait weeks to months to see a doctor or specialist. Veterans will not have to pay the high costs for care upfront then wait for reimbursement. Under the amended bill, the VA will now cover deductibles and copays directly for veterans requiring or seeking private care.
Though the bill won’t stop the number of mesothelioma cases from rising each year, it can ensure that current and future mesothelioma will get the care they need from an experienced specialist. This can have a substantial impact on treatment options and life expectancy.
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