Veterans' Health Care:

VA's Approaches to Meeting Veterans' Home Health Care Needs

HEHS-96-68: Published: Mar 15, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) meets veterans' home health care needs, focusing on: (1) the characteristics and services of the home health care programs VA uses; (2) the available data describing program costs; and (3) how VA ensures that veterans receive quality home care services.

GAO found that: (1) most veterans receive home health care services from community-based providers through either the VA fee-based program or Medicare's home health care benefit; (2) most veterans in these programs receive short-term home health care services for acute medical conditions, while some veterans receive long-term care for chronic conditions; (3) VA provides in-home physician, nursing, social work, and dietician services to veterans with chronic conditions through its Hospital-Based Home Care (HBHC) program; (4) VA makes decisions about using HBHC programs based on its perception of relative costs, since comparable cost data are not available; (5) HBHC program costs are based on data developed by hospitals that support the programs, while VA reported fee-based program costs represent payments made to providers and exclude certain administrative costs; (6) VA monitors the quality of care provided by HBHC programs more directly than it does community-based care; and (7) licensing and certification assessments of community-based providers provide VA assurance that care is provided by qualified sources, but VA is ultimately responsible for ensuring the quality of care in its programs.

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