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Post: DARIN SELNICK: Will The VA Take Away Veterans’ Health Care Options?

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DARIN SELNICK: Will The VA Take Away Veterans’ Health Care Options?
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Daily Caller News Foundation Is the Department of Veterans Affairs conspiring to strip veterans of needed health care options? According to a leaked internal report , yes.

This VA “Red Team” report was commissioned by the Veterans Health Administration to strategize how to steer more veterans into VA-run facilities instead of independent, or “community care” providers. It’s a nefarious move from a VHA worried about competition.

Community care, established via the VA MISSION Act, requires giving veterans the option to use their health benefits for care outside the VA when drive and wait times for care at VA facilities are too long. It’s a popular program that has been a gamechanger for millions.

But the VA has a budgetary interest in veterans choosing VA facilities.

Through documents like the Red Team report, the department is coming up with ways to ensure veterans’ choices are limited.

Despite editorialized reporting on its existence, the Red Team report itself was not widely circulated. Neither the House nor Senate VA Committees could get a copy despite multiple requests. Fortunately, Empower Oversight, a government accountability watchdog organization, released the full document. The report’s recommendations tell us why it’s been so under wraps and only seen by those friendly to gutting choice.

First, the report suggests using telehealth to cut off veterans’ access to community care. Right now, when the VA can’t offer veterans care that is nearby enough or soon enough, veterans can use community care instead.

The Red Team report suggests using shorter virtual appointment wait times to allow the VA to claim that it is “providing timely care” and to deny community care referrals. Telehealth is a useful innovation but shouldn’t be used to eliminate veterans’ choices.

Second, the report recommends the VA approve fewer community care appointments for veterans across several treatment areas to “mitigate” (read: cut) costs, including emergency care, mental health care, and oncology.Apparently, timely, quality veterans’ care for ER visits, cancer screenings, and PTSD treatment are less important to the VA “Red Team” than prioritizing the VA.Finally, the report suggests “repatriating” (read: choiceless transitioning) veterans undergoing treatment plans at community providers back to the VA system. […]

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