VA Health Care:

Efforts to Improve Veterans' Access to Primary Care Services

T-HEHS-96-134: Published: Apr 24, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) plan to improve veterans' access to primary health care. GAO noted that: (1) by creating new access points, VA may be able to cost-effectively improve users' access to health care and reduce the inequities in veterans' access caused by geographic inaccessibility; (2) creating new access points may increase costs dramatically, since VA failure to adhere to statutory eligibility limitations has resulted in an increase in the amount of services provided and members receiving benefits; (3) the lack of a VA facility in a particular area does not necessarily justify the establishment of a new primary care access point in that area; (4) VA hospitals need to find ways to finance new access points through reorganization of resources rather than with additional funds; (5) in some underserved areas, it has been more cost-effective to contract for health care services rather than establishing a new VA access point; and (6) new access points could cause financial difficulties for VA, because these new facilities will make VA funded care more accessible to veterans who would otherwise not have used VA facilities.

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