Nine Questions Veterans Need to Ask Before They’re Referred to VA Community Care

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Cost, quality, and accountability are big concerns with non-VA care

The VA MISSION Act has officially rolled out and VA staff have begun to refer veterans to private sector providers in the Community Care Network. There have been reports throughout the VA system that the tools to determine eligibility haven’t been working as they should. And, as we’ve said before, it’s nearly impossible for the VA – or anyone – to determine whether a Community Care provider has better quality than the Veterans Health Administration.

Veterans should be armed with information that helps them to understand their care and where they’re getting that care. So, when a VA staffer tries to refer you to a private sector provider in the Community Care Network, be sure to ask these questions:

  1. What data do you have about the quality of care I will receive from the provider I’m going to see in the community?

  2. Is the quality any better than what I would get here at the VA?

  3. Will the cost be the same in the Community Care Network as it is at the VA?

  4. If I choose Community Care, will that provider have the expertise in military-related conditions to appropriately treat my service-related conditions and other health problems?

  5. Are the wait times shorter in Community Care than what is available at the VA?

  6. Can I choose to receive VA care even if I need to wait or drive longer?

  7. Would my Community Care provider coordinate my care with other outside and/or VA providers?

  8. If I have a bad outcome from Community Care treatment, will I be left to deal with this on my own and have to seek outside legal help?

  9. Is getting a VA Telehealth appointment an option for me?

If the VA staffer can’t give you an answer, it’s likely the Community Care provider hasn’t delivered that info – or VA leadership hasn’t been asked the question before. Veterans need answers to make the best medical decisions for themselves.

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If you find this and other VHPI tools useful, please contribute $20 so we can continue our work. The impact of the VA MISSION Act will be felt for a long time. Your contribution will help us be the watchdog veterans need to ensure they’re getting the care they need and deserve.

Brett Copeland