23,000 veterans may lose health care
BATON ROUGE - More than 23,000 Louisiana veterans are in danger of losing access to private doctors because the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs isn't reimbursing physicians for their services. It's one of many problems that have come to light concerning the embattled federal agency.
Veterans who need immediate health care are allowed to seek private doctors for treatment. The physicians then bill the V.A. for a reimbursement. However, Louisiana leaders say thousands of these reimbursements are being denied out right, and veterans are being billed instead.
"The V.A. needs to get their act together," said the Secretary for the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, David LaCerte, "there's going to be problems with these things, but it's been going on for years."
LaCerte's department is wholly separate from the federal V.A. system. The Louisiana agency advocates for veterans in the state. LaCerte says he's working with the state's congressional delegation to reform the V.A.
Health care analysts say the reason for billing problems is because the V.A. uses outdated and inefficient data technology. However, LaCerte cautions against throwing money at the problem.
"They need to shuffle the deck a little," said LaCerte, "wether its a management problem, wether its a staffing problem, wether they need to contract those functions out. It needs to improve and we want to see results."