During a veterans’ roundtable with Rep. Dave Loebsack last week, Mike Kuhn with the Marion County Commission on Veterans Affairs reminded those present that veterans can receive treatment at private facilities if the Department of Veterans Affairs is notified within 48 hours.
Loebsack was asked about the possible expansion of veterans’ access to private healthcare, as opposed to relying solely on the VA. Loebsack said he believes that there are many small hospitals who would be grateful for the additional veterans’ business. However, Loebsack also has heard concerns from Veterans Service Organizations that greater access to private doctors would erode the VA system.
“I’m hoping we can find some kind of a compromise,” Loebsack said.
“All vets have access to that health care system,” Kuhn said. According to the VA’s website, “Non-VA Care is medical care provided to eligible Veterans outside of VA when VA facilities are not available. All VA medical centers can use this program when needed. The use of the Non-VA Care program is governed by federal laws containing eligibility criteria and other policies specifying when and why it can be used. A pre-authorization for treatment in the community is required for Non-VA Care -- unless the medical event is an emergency. Emergency events may be reimbursed on behalf of the Veteran in certain cases.”
The site goes on to say, “The local VA medical facility has criteria to determine whether Non-VA Care may be used. If a Veteran is eligible for certain medical care, the VA hospital or clinic should provide it as the first option. If they can’t, due to a lack of available specialists, long wait times, or extraordinary distances from the Veteran’s home, the VA may consider authorizing VA payment for Non-VA medical care in the Veteran’s community. Non-VA Care is not an entitlement program or a permanent treatment option.”
One local veteran in attendance told Loebsack of his desire to see the day program and recreational therapy return to the Knoxville VA. According to the veteran, he is now told to seek similar activities at the Knoxville Senior Center.
For more information on Non-VA Care, visit www.nonvacare.va.gov.