Veterans' Affairs:

Observations on Selected Features of the Proposed Veterans' Millennium Health Care Act

T-HEHS-99-125: Published: May 19, 1999. Publicly Released: May 19, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the proposed Veterans' Millennium Health Care Act, which would modify policies and practices of the health care system operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

GAO noted that: (1) the draft bill's facility service realignment, long-term care, and cost-sharing provisions should help facilitate VA's continuing transformation of its health care system and address concerns that GAO has previously reported to Congress; (2) these proposals, in combination with VA's enrollment process, provide a rational framework for helping VA address the increasing health care needs of an aging population of higher-priority veterans while operating within available resources; (3) however, even with this enabling legislation, achieving these multiple goals will be a challenge to VA because of their complexity and far-reaching implications; (4) more specifically, the combination of proposed changes should help VA provide care for veterans in more appropriate settings, as well as help VA achieve its stated goals of reducing per-patient costs, increasing the number of its patients, and reducing reliance on appropriations; (5) facility realignment and cost-sharing provisions are consistent with options GAO has suggested to help VA reduce budget pressures and generate the resources needed to serve more veterans and provide enhanced benefits; and (6) long-term care provisions appear designed to reduce variability in veterans' access to such care systemwide, which addresses, in general, GAO's concern about the potential adverse effect of VA's transformation on the equity of veterans' access to care.

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