High-risk vets face lapses in health care, higher costs

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WASHINGTON — Veterans continue to face major challenges in receiving the medical care they need.

At issue Tuesday, during a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill: high-need, high-risk veterans who often lack support for their complex needs.

Lawmakers were told that vets who receive care across multiple locations are at the greatest risk for lapses in care because often, different providers don’t talk to each other.

“Without intervention to better coordinate the care, veterans will continue to have higher rates of emergency department visits, hospital admissions and substantial increases in health care costs,” said Dr. M. Christopher Saslo Ph.D., Assistant Under Secretary for Health/Chief Nursing Officer, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Panel members told VA administrators that communication between the department and its providers would improve if coordinators are empowered to work across bureaucratic lines.

“This is not due to a lack of compassionate coordinators and social workers within VA, but rather due to poorly defined roles and jurisdictions for these advocates,” said Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.

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