As I do every year, I take today to highlight some health care news related to the military and our veterans.
- VA disability claims backlog grows. “The Department of Veterans Affairs anticipates that its claims backlog, defined as those older than 125 days, will grow ‘potentially up to 400,000’ in the next year, largely the result of the PACT Act…the landmark legislation that broadened benefits eligibility for post-9/11 veterans and former service members from other eras sickened by exposure to environmental pollution.”
- Impact of government default on veterans. “The Treasury Department pays $25 billion worth of bills for the Department of Veterans Affairs each month — for veterans benefits, employee salaries, private health care, pharmacy costs and other programs like payments to small and veteran-owned companies that do business with the VA… Roughly $12 billion in veterans benefits are expected to be paid out June 1 to 7.1 million veterans or their families, and experts have said those would likely be delayed in the event of a default.”
- The military doesn’t pay for fertility services. “Active duty service members unable to conceive children naturally can face significant hurdles as the military health plan doesn’t cover reproductive assistance, such as in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, a surrogate or adoption.” One reason is that the procedure is expensive. One military member “…went through six rounds of IVF and [spent] $120,000.”
- Future of military health care: ‘Digital First’. “Currently almost 80% of all health care visits are in person with only about 20% being virtual, [Dr. Brian Lein, assistant director for health care administration for the Defense Health Agency (DHA)] added. ‘The downside is 95% of our virtual visits are telephone calls. We’re not really leveraging the health technology that’s out there.’ Lein shared the MHS’ goals to transition to virtual care, including: (i) enhance the system to be virtual-first with a digitally informed whole person-focused environment, where the individual beneficiary is at the center, (ii) make individualized care based upon real-time analytics, (iii) apply best practices to leading-edge technologies to support our worldwide population, (iv) drive and improve health outcomes for our people.”
Happy Memorial Day and wishing good health to all our military members and veterans.